Beshear: ‘We are going to get back to a normal’ that he hopes is kinder and gentler; Rocky Adkins: ‘Let’s not kick it out of bounds’

Gov. Andy Beshear spoke with Bernard Ingram as he got a shot in Russell, near Ashland. (State photo)

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

As the pandemic continued to wane, Gov. Andy Beshear and his chief lieutenant for Eastern Kentucky went to a vaccination center near Ashland Wednesday to encourage people in the region to get immunized to the coronavirus.

“I’ve never seen someone cry tears of joy to get a shot,” Beshear said, amplifying expressions he has voiced after visiting other such centers. Then he voiced hope that the pandemic’s legacy won’t be all bad.

“We are going to get back to a normal, but I will say I hope it’s a slightly different normal, one where the compassion we see, how much we care about each other, our willingness to work with one another, our ability to speak to one another with kindness and not division,” he said. “I think that’s something we ought to carry with us as we move forward.”

A more immediate message came from Rocky Adkins, senior adviser to the governor and a former state representative from nearby Sandy Hook who was runner-up to Beshear in the 2019 Democratic primary.

Rocky Adkins (still image from video)

Adkins said they were there to support and honor those who are “putting their lives on the line to save ours,” and to have public vaccinations on camera “to encourage those who have not taken the vaccine or might be thinking about not taking the vaccine to reconsider.”

He added, “That little light we see at the end of the tunnel right now, the more people we get vaccinate, the bigger that light gets, and the quicker we get back to some sense of normalcy that we all want to get to, as quickly as possible.”

Adkins said his father, 85-year-old Jess Adkins, has beaten Covid-19, been fully vaccinated and “has got that plow hooked up today, plowing his garden and getting ready to disc it, to get back to a normal life. I think that’s what this is about.”

Earlier, Adkins reverted to his college-basketball days at Morehead State University: “So let’s not blow it. Let’s not kick it out of bounds. Let’s not turn it over. Let’s make sure we finish this race and we finish strong.”

Daily numbers: Every measure of the pandemic in Kentucky declined except its main lagging indicator, deaths. The state added 34 people to its list of Covid-19 victims, bringing the death toll to 4,884. That raised the seven-day average slightly, but the 14-day average dropped by 1.2, to 25.5 per day.

The 34 fatalities were an Anderson County man, 76; a Fulton County man, 96; a Graves County woman, 75; a Graves County man, 85; a Greenup County woman, 64; three Greenup County men, 52, 74 and 84; a Harlan County man, 66; two Harrison County women, 79 and 81; a Hopkins County woman, 85; a Jefferson County woman, 81; six Jefferson County men, 47, 61, 70, 72, 74 and 88; a Jessamine County woman, 94; a Jessamine County man, 83; a Kenton County man, 63; a Knott County woman, 78; two Letcher County men, 72 and 85; a Livingston County man, 74; two McCreary County women, 73 and 76; a Marion County woman, 89; a Perry County woman, 76; a Perry County man, 85; a Pulaski County woman, 69; a Taylor County man, 76; and a Washington County woman, 88.

Lyon County continued to have one of the highest infection rates in the nation, due to an outbreak at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville, following one at the state’s nearby Western Kentucky Correctional Complex. The Corrections Department report said the penitentiary had 426 active cases among inmates and 34 among staff, while the other had 274 and 25, respectively. They accounted for almost all the cases reported in state prisons.

Lyon County’s rate of new cases over the last seven days is 510 per 100,000 residents. The state says the statewide rate is 14.29. Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate are Carroll, 34.9; Rowan, 34.5; Clinton, 33.6; Bell, 30.7; Laurel, 29.8; Washington, 29.5; and Clay, 29.4.

Counties with 10 or more new cases Wednesday were: Jefferson, 130; Lyon, 93; Fayette, 55; Scott, 41; Kenton, 39; Pulaski, 32; Warren, 32; McCracken, 27; Boone, 24; Laurel, 24; Oldham, 23; Carter, 19; Daviess, 18; Campbell, 16; Barren, 15; Hardin, Harrison and Taylor, 13; Adair, Christian, Franklin and Madison, 12; Bullitt, Greenup and Knox, 11; and Clay, Grant and Shelby, 10.

In other pandemic news Wednesday:

  • The University of Kentucky said it would hold in-person commencement May 14-16, with a specific schedule to come later. Masks and distancing will be required, so seating will be limited.
  • Research at the University of Michigan finds that high-risk older adults are now much more likely to get vaccinated than they were last October. Overall, the poll shows an increase from 58% last fall to 71% in January saying they were likely to get vaccinated or already had been. Three groups of older adults with especially high risk of severe Covid-19 — Blacks, Hispanics and people in fair or poor health – had even bigger jumps in vaccine receptiveness between October and late January.
  • Mailing a package of coronavirus tests to every household in America and asking people to use them once a week could greatly reduce total infections and mortality at a justifiable cost, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds. The research, published today in Annals of Internal Medicine, considers rapid antigen tests that warn people, in real-time, that they are potentially contagious and that they should isolate themselves before unknowingly spreading the disease to others.
  • President Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. is buying an additional 100 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, to be delivered in the months following June after another 100 million doses are expected to be delivered, The Associated Press reports.
  • The Pfizer vaccine protects strongly against many variants of the virus, including the B.1.1.7 and P.1 variants (first identified in the United Kingdom and and Brazil, respectively) but not B.1.351 (first identified in South Africa), says a study that needs confirmation with testing in patients, researchers said.
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