Child-care centers allowed to resume normal class sizes; state records 5,000th Covid-19 death and 1 millionth vaccination

State Dept. for Public Health graph, adapted by Ky. Health News; to enlarge, click on it.

By Bruce Maples and Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
On the day Kentucky recorded its 5,000th Covid-19 death and delivered its millionth vaccination, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that licensed child-care facilities could now return to normal class sizes.

Beshear noted that the class sizes, which are determined by children’s age, would be the same as before the pandemic but the facilities would still be expected to follow a set of guidelines to ensure the safety of the children and the staff:

  • Classrooms must still stay in groups and not mix groups of children throughout the day.
  • All other health and safety precautions established in emergency regulations are still in place.
  • All child-care providers are encouraged to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.
  • Visitor restrictions remain in place, but the emergency regulation has been changed to allow access by candidates for Child Development Associate credentials and their professors.

A celebratory milestone: Beshear, first lady Britainy Beshear and Health Commissioner Steven Stack held a ceremony at the State Capitol Monday recognizing the milestone of 1 million Kentuckians getting their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. “These vaccines are going to take us out of this pandemic and into a new era,” Beshear said. “This is truly both a miracle of modern medicine and a tribute to so many Kentuckians that have worked to make this happen.”

He noted that Kentucky administered its first coronavirus vaccine just three months ago, on Dec. 14, and said the state has set another weekly record, with one day remaining in the vaccine-reporting week. He said the state now has 567 vaccine sites, with more expected to be forthcoming.

“Even as we mark this hopeful milestone, we must be clear-eyed to know that this war is not yet won,” he said, adding later, “How we honor them is to ensure that we defeat this pandemic as quickly as possible and we make sure that everybody counts, that everybody gets this vaccine, that we bring everybody with us to the finish line.”

Finally, he said the state has hit the 100% efficiency mark in its delivery of the vaccines, meaning that every dose the state has received has been put into someone’s arm.

Assuming that the state’s vaccine supply continues to expand, Beshear said, he expects to not only meet President Biden’s goal of being able to vaccinate every willing adult by the end of May, but to beat that goal. He reiterated, “We are going to defeat Covid-19 this year.”

A different and somber milestone: On the same day the state celebrated vaccinating over a million people, it recorded 23 more deaths from Covid-19, making the total 5,005. Beshear noted the passage of that big, round number, and closed his press conference by talking about what it means:
“I got a chance this weekend to be with a couple of friends who have lost parents, and to talk to them. … And I realize that their grief isn’t just when it happens. It’s every one of those special moments where their parents, the grandparents to their kids, would be there for that thing they love. It could be a baseball game. It could be a graduation. And knowing that grief for 5,000-plus families, and by the end of this many more, because we’re not going to have any unknown soldiers.”
He referred to his earlier statement that he believed the state would finish its audit to find missing Covid-19 deaths by Thursday, and continued: “We ought to watch out for one another when those moments come. I know they are painful, and we need to be there for each other, knowing that that grief is not over.”
He concluded, “Let’s remember that our compassion wasn’t just important in the beginning, and in the middle, but at the end, and then past the end. We’re going to emerge, I think, with a bright future and sprinting ahead – but we’re also going to emerge as scarred people. We don’t go through something like this without carrying some of it out with us. Do I believe we can use that to become better people, better to each other? Absolutely. But I also think it means that we’re going to have to be understanding with ourselves, and with each other in the years to come.”
At a memorial service March 6, the one-year anniversary of the first case in Kentucky, Beshear said the Capitol grounds would get a permanent memorial to honor those who have died, those who have been left behind, the state’s front-line workers, and all who have done what they could to keep others safe. Monday, he announced creation of a Team Kentucky Memorial Fund to finance the memorial. For more information, go to

Pandemic trends: Overall, measures of the pandemic in Kentucky continued to decline, though some showed signs of a plateau.

The number of new cases for the Monday-to-Sunday week declined for the ninth week in a row. The latest was smaller, but was still a clear decline.

The state reported 396 new cases Monday, raising the seven-day rolling average to 797, nine more than Sunday’s average.
The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus was the same as Sunday, 3.99 percent, about the average for the last 10 days. Noting that this could be a plateau, Beshear said it would bear watching.

Beshear noted that only eight counties are in the “red zone” for places averaging more than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous seven days. The state’s daily report said the statewide rate has declined to 13.39 per 100,000.

Lyon County continued to have by far the highest infection rate in the nation, due to outbreaks of the virus at state prisons there. Beshear had said Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown would talk about that Monday, but he said Brown’s report had been delayed until Tuesday. (David B. Snow of The Paducah Sun has details on the outbreaks.)
Other counties with rates considerably higher than the statewide rate were Carroll and Knox, 34.9; Powell, 33.5; Clay, 33; Owsley, 32.4; Laurel, 28.7; Butler, 25.5; Bell, 23.0; Trimble, 21.9; Adair, 21.6; Green, 20.9; Carter, 20.3; Whitley, 20.1; and Simpson, 20

In other pandemic news Monday:  

  • Kentucky hospitals reported 464 Covid-19 patients, 114 of them in intensive care and 67 of those on ventilators. All numbers were down slightly.
  • The 23 deaths were a Barren County man, 47; a Bullitt County man, 74; a Calloway County woman, 92; three Fayette County women, 66, 69, and 91, and a man, 79; a Greenup County man, 71; in Jefferson County, three women, 70, 85, and 86, and two men, 78 and 83; a Kenton County man, 47; a Logan County woman, 72, and a man, 84; a Lyon County man, 48; a Meade County man, 70; a Mercer County woman, 64; a Montgomery County woman, 76; a Pike County woman, 82; in Warren County, woman, 60, and a man, 63.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 91; Fayette, 34, Warren, 16; Laurel, 14; Knox, 12; McCracken, 12; and Boone, 11.
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