As coronavirus vaccines keep falling short of goals in Kentucky, businesses step up with incentives to nudge Kentuckians along

Picture of a coronavirus. Text: Covid-19 update

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News

Coronavirus vaccination rates in Kentucky remain slow, with only 9,504 shots given yesterday, and only 12% of the state’s available shots given in the vaccine-reporting week that began Tuesday.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily press release reported 1,751,541 Kentuckians had received at least one dose of a vaccine, which leaves the state 748,459 short of the governor’s 2.5 million goal — the benchmark set by the governor to lift capacity and curfew restrictions on most businesses.
“Every day, thousands more Kentuckians get their shot of hope, but we need to accelerate our progress,” Beshear said in the release. “The sooner more Kentuckians get vaccinated, the faster we can lift more restrictions.” He has indicated that he would do more incremental relaxations of restrictions.
Retail businesses and employers eager for Beshear to lift these restrictions are offering incentives to people who decide to get vaccinated, Jack Brammer reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. 

“Freebies for those vaccinated include dessert-on-a-stick from White Castle, glazed doughnuts from Krispy Kreme and lamination of vaccination cards from Staples and Office Depot,” Brammer writes.

The Cincinnati Reds are offering discounted tickets, and some businesses, including Kroger and Tractor Supply, are offering employees paid leave and bonuses to get a shot; and Appalachian Regional Healthcare has set up a bonus competition among its facilities based on vaccine rates, Brammer reports.
Amazon announced it is launching 20 sites to provide vaccinations for more than 18,000 front-line employees in Kentucky, and has been offering an incentive to employees vaccinated off-site, Brammer reports. Meanwhile, some independent pharmacies are taking the vaccine out into their communities.

“The governor has successfully called on community and business leaders to offer vaccine incentives,” Beshear spokesman Sebastian Kitchen told Brammer. “They have responded with time-off and direct and competitive bonuses for employees who get vaccinated. More incentive announcements will be coming soon from the Commonwealth as well as from several major companies and organizations.”

To find a vaccination site near you, go to Thousands of appointments are available across the state, and many sites take walk-ins.
Daily numbers: Beshear’s release was abbreviated again; its statistics omitted hospital numbers and were limited to the number of vaccinations and new cases and the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days. That was 3.12%, .01 percentage points higher than yesterday.
The state reported 796 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the seven-day rolling average up to 556, and increase of 24 from yesterday and the highest in eight days.
Likewise, the rate of daily new cases over the last seven days is 10.87 cases per 100,000 residents. That was the highest in a week, but The New York Times still ranks Kentucky’s rate 38th among the states.
Counties with rates more than twice the statewide rate are Powell, 50.9 cases per 100,000;  Lewis, 49.5;  Bath, 36.6;  Robertson, 33.9;  Montgomery, 30.4;  Monroe, 28.2;  Morgan, 24.7;  Todd, 24.4; and Hickman, 22.8.
Hospital numbers, which appear on the daily report from the Department for Public Health, dropped after a slight surge on Wednesday. Kentucky hospitals reported 422 Covid-19 patients (down 12 from Wednesday) ; 97 of them in intensive care (down 22); and 45 of those on a ventilator (down 14).
The Lake Cumberland hospital readiness region is the only region using at least 80% of its intensive care unit beds, at 84% .
The state reported 12 more Covid-19 deaths, 10 from the regular health-department reports and two from an ongoing audit of the state’s death certificates. That brings the death toll to 6,497.
The regularly reported deaths, all but three of which were in April, were an Allen County man, 82; an Anderson County woman, 59; a Barren County man, 64; a Boone County man, 82; a Clark County man, 69; a Clay County man, 73; a Monroe County woman, 69; a Muhlenberg County woman, 92; a Muhlenberg County man, 69; and a Warren County man, 80.
The two audit deaths, in October and November, were a Boone County man, 87, and a Whitley County man, 95.
In other pandemic news Thursday:
  • Counties with at least 10 new cases were Jefferson, 235; Fayette, 42; Warren, 28; Daviess, 23; Hardin, 20; Kenton, 16; Madison and Powell, 15; Graves and McCracken, 14; Boone, Bullitt and Lewis, 12; Hopkins, 11; and Clark, Floyd, Laurel and Pulaski, 10.
  • Vaccines appear to be curbing new coronavirus infections in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University that shows the seven-day average for new cases in the U.S. has fallen below the 14-day average for more than a week, which health experts says is a strong indication that cases are on the decline, The Wall Street Journal reports. As of April 27, 37.3% of U.S. adults were fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with about 2.7 million shots given each day.  “When you get to somewhere between 40 and 50%, I believe you’re going to start seeing real change, the start of a precipitous drop in cases,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease expert, told the Journal in an interview.
  • Moderna said its vaccine can be refrigerated at standard temperatures for three months, not just one, and can be frozen for up to seven months. “The extended shelf life for refrigerated Moderna doses could help simplify distribution, especially in smaller settings and hard-to-reach populations,” The Hill reports.
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