New Covid-19 vaccinations keep plunging; Ky. gave only 1,524 first shots Monday, as cases and positive tests kept ticking up

Screenshot of state vaccine dashboard by percentage of county population with at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.

Screenshot of state vaccine dashboard, adapted and labeled by Kentucky Health News

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

As Covid-19 vaccination rates across Kentucky continue to lag, Gov. Andy Beshear optimistically continues to make his regular plea for Kentuckians to get their “shot of hope,” as he likes to call it. On Monday, the state only gave 1,524 first shots of a vaccine.

“We’re getting closer to reaching our 2.5 million-vaccine Team Kentucky Vaccination Challenge every day, but we need to pick up the pace, especially among younger Kentuckians,” Beshear said in a news release. “There are vaccination appointments available every week, at many different times throughout the day. At some sites, you don’t even need an appointment. Get it done, for yourself and for your community, so we can reach our goal and relax more restrictions.”

The state’s vaccine dashboard shows 1,835,176 Kentuckians have received at least one dose, so 664,824 more need a first shot to reach the governor’s 2.5 million goal. Beshear has said he will lift all capacity restrictions on businesses up to 1,000 people when the state reaches this vaccine goal.

With vaccination slowing across the nation, President Joe Biden set a new goal Tuesday to deliver at least one dose to 70 percent of adult Americans by July 4, shifting from the goal of “herd immunity,” which some experts now think is unachievable, to one that gets as many shots into arms as possible.

“Officials said that Biden’s vaccination target would result in significant reduction in Covid-19 cases heading into the summer,” The Associated Press reports.
Beshear’s office did not respond to a question from Kentucky Health News asking whether he plans to shift to, or model, Biden’s new goal.
In Kentucky, 70% of Kentuckians 18 and older amounts to 2.4 million people, which is 100,000 fewer than the governor’s current goal; it would mean that only 564,824 more Kentuckians need to get a first dose to reach that goal — which might still be a struggle, since vaccines rates continue to slow across the state.
Meanwhile, the state’s mass vaccination sites are beginning to close.
The University of Kentucky plans to “de-mobilize” its site at Kroger Field, Rick Childress reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said the site is mostly providing second doses. In early April it was averaging 4,000 or more doses per day, now it is closer to 1,000 per day, Blanton said.
Daily numbers: Beshear announced 776 new cases of the virus Tuesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average up for the sixth day in a row, to 624.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days also went up for the sixth consecutive day, to 3.47%.

Those numbers put Kentucky back to where it was the second week of April for new cases, and the third week of April for its positive-test rate.

The statewide rate of daily new cases over the last seven days is 11.47 cases per 100,000 residents, up .02 from yesterday. The New York Times ranks Kentucky’s rate 24th among the states, the same ranking as yesterday and the highest since mid-March.

Counties with rates double the statewide rate were Powell, 65.9; Robertson, 47.4; Lewis, 47.4; Menifee, 33; Hickman, 32.6; Bath, 27.4; Simpson, 26.2; Wolfe, 25.9; and Todd, 23.2.

Kentucky hospitals reported 434 patients with Covid-19, up 20 from yesterday; 102 in intensive care, unchanged; and 48 of those on a ventilator, down 1. None of the 10 hospital readiness regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care beds.
The state reported seven new Covid-19 deaths, all of them from regular health-department reports. That brings the state’s death toll to 6,532.

Today’s fatalities were a Boone County woman, 79; a Daviess County woman, 48; a Fayette County woman, 80; a Kenton County man, 81; a Leslie County woman 77; a Warren County man, 88; and a Woodford County man, 58.

In other pandemic news Tuesday: 

  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 126; Bullitt and Fayette, 47; Pike, 26; Henderson,  24; Daviess, 23; McCracken, 20; Jessamine and Warren, 19; Madison, 18; Hardin and Laurel, 16; Oldham, 14; Barren, Boone, Christian, Montgomery and Powell, 12; Kenton and Marshall, 11; and Grayson and Lewis, 10.
  • “Louisville health leaders are urging those who are unvaccinated to get tested for Covid-19, whether they were at Churchill Downs or just at a friend’s house over the weekend for the 147th Kentucky Derby,” Sarah Ladd reports for the Courier Journal. “Vaccinated people who develop symptoms of Covid-19 — cough, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue, tiredness — should also get tested,” city health strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer said Tuesday. “If people are out and about and they have symptoms or they have Covid and don’t know it, that’s how it spreads exponentially.” She said the city has already seen an increase in cases last week from spring break, people traveling, and increased social activities.
  • “Biden thanked ‘prominent conservatives like Mitch McConnell’ and a ‘large group’ of Republicans with medical training who are pushing Americans to get vaccinated so that life can return to normal,” Fox News reports.
  • Deborah Yetter of the CJ confirms that the nursing home where an unvaccinated worker started an outbreak of a Covid-19 variant that infected 46 people and killed three residents was Life Care Center of Morehead.  Kentucky Health News has reported that state data showed it was the only facility with such an outbreak at the time.
  • The Kentucky Association of Health Plans, the trade association representing all companies offering health coverage in Kentucky, has released a new social media and radio campaign called “Get the Shot, I Did.” The ads will air on more than 100 stations and on multiple digital platforms. Click here and go to the bottom of the press release to listen to the two spots.
  • Also, KAHP has employed a range of tactics to encourage the more than 1.6 million Kentuckians on Medicaid to get vaccinated, including, “coordinated transportation for plan members, pop-up clinics, homebound vaccination visits, text and email campaigns, yard signs, billboards, outbound calls to members prioritized by risk tier, personalized assistance from advocates with sign-ups and digital site navigation, letters, and follow-up on second dose appointments if a plan is alerted that a member has not received the second dose based on claims data,” a news release says.
  • CNN reports that the Food and Drug Administration will likely authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children between 12 to 15 years old early next week. Biden said his administration will boost efforts to vaccinate teenagers when FDA approves. Pfizer’s application for emergency-use authorization uses data from a trial of 2,260 children in that age group, which showed the vaccine was 100% effective. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are expected to seek emergency-use authorization for children as young as six months later this year.
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