Ky. has three weeks of declining coronavirus cases and positive-test rates; Beshear implores people under 50 to get vaccinated

Kentucky Department for Public Health chart showing new coronavirus cases in the state by week since March

Ky. Dept. for Public Health chart, relabeled by Ky. Health News; for a larger version, click on it.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear says he is hopeful that three straight weeks of declining coronavirus cases and positive-test rates means the pandemic has moved out of a plateau to a downward trend in Kentucky.
“We hope that it is a trend, but this may just be part of the plateau,” Beshear said at his regular Covid-19 news conference that, in another sign of the fading pandemic, is now being held just once a week.
Beshear is eliminating  capacity limits for most businesses May 28 and will reduce nearly all the state’s pandemic restrictions June 11. He reiterated that he is waiting four weeks to allow vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds, who were recently authorized to get a shot, and anyone who is not yet vaccinated.
“As we return more towards normalcy, it’ll be nice to hopefully see these numbers continue to decline,” Beshear said.
Asked about the confusion over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s recent guidance that says anyone who is fully vaccinated doesn’t need to wear a mask most of the time, even though some businesses still require it, Beshear said businesses have the choice to require them, and asked patrons to honor those decisions.
“I think we can all figure that out,” he said.
One of the best ways to make the pandemic numbers keep going down is for more people get vaccinated, so Beshear implored younger Kentuckians to get a shot, noting that vaccination rates for Kentuckians under 50 are much lower than for those 50 and older.
He also noted that Kentuckians between 10 to 19 have the highest Covid-19 rate of new cases of any age group in today’s report, followed by those 20 to 49, while the state’s older groups have lower rates.
“This virus is shifting who is getting infected, because of who is — but more importantly who is not — getting the vaccine,” he said, asking a bit later, “So what does that say? It says if you are between 12, when you qualify, and 49, not enough people are getting their vaccines. Please get out there and get it. because people in your age group are getting the virus at a higher rate than other age groups.”
Chart showing reported coronavirus doses administered by day in Kentucky
Washington Post chart shows Ky. vaccine progress; click it to enlarge.

Beshear said 54 percent of Kentucky adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine. He said 80% of Kentuckians 65 and older have received at least one “shot of hope”; 60% of people 50-64;  45% between the ages of 40-49; 40% of people between 30-39 and 29% of people between 18-29.

After adding Kentuckians who have been vaccinated in other states and removing out-of-state people from Kentucky’s vaccine numbers, Beshear said 1,939,657 Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
The top five counties by percent of residents getting at least one dose of a vaccine are: Woodford (57%), Franklin (56%), Fayette (54%), Scott (48%) and Campbell (47%).The bottom five counties are: Christian (18%), Spencer (18%), Ballard (20%), McCreary (21%) and Lewis (21%).
Since last Thursday, the first day vaccines were given to children 12-15, Beshear said, 6,319 in that age group had received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only one now approved for the age group.
Nationally, only a few pediatricians have stocked the vaccine, largely out of concern that they will not be able to administer all doses in a vial before they expire. New guidance from the CDC aims to persuade more doctors to stock the vaccine by assuring them that wasting some doses is an acceptable price to pay for inoculating their patients as quickly as possible, Christine Vestal reports for Stateline.
“We recognize that as we continue to create more opportunities to vaccinate more people, it may increase the likelihood of leaving unused doses in a vial,” the CDC said in an advisory memo obtained by Stateline. “While we want to continue to follow best practices to use every dose possible, we do not want that to be at the expense of missing an opportunity to vaccinate every eligible person when they are ready to get vaccinated.”
Daily numbers: The state reported 285 new cases of the virus Monday, raising the seven-day average 17, to 533; it went up by 13 Sunday. Today’s average is about the average for the past month (530).
The rate of new cases over the last seven days declined again, for the 13th consecutive day. It was 8.59 cases per 100,000 residents. Counties with a rate more than double the statewide rate are Webster, 38.6; Rockcastle, 27.4; Adair, 25.3; Estill, 23.3; Lewis, 21.5; Owen, 21.0; Casey, 20.3; Union, 19.9; Montgomery, 19.3; Taylor, 18.8; and Henderson, 18.6.
Only three Kentucky counties remain in the red zone, which means they have at least 25.1 cases per 100,000 residents and are considered to have the highest risk of transmission. Asked if the state was doing anything to help pull Adair, Rockcastle and Webster counties out of the zone, Beshear said the state still has “red county recommendations” and that it remains willing and ready to help any county that ask for help. Not so long ago, almost all of Kentucky’s 120 counties were in the red zone.
The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days is 2.78%, down slightly from Sunday when it was 2.79%, and now the 12th straight day of decline.
Kentucky hospitals reported 389 Covid-19 patients, up eight from Sunday; 112 of them in intensive care (the same); and 73 of those on a ventilator (up 20). The Lake Cumberland hospital readiness region is the only one using at least 80% of its intensive care unit beds, at 89%.
The state announced six more Covid-19 deaths, all of them from the regularly reported health department reports. That brings the death toll to 6,662.
The fatalities were a Daviess County woman, 66; a Fayette County woman, 71; a Green County woman, 55; a Jefferson County woman, 67; a Jefferson County man, 69; and a Pike County woman, 62. All of the deaths were reported in March and April.
In other pandemic news Monday: 
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 89; Campbell, 20; McCracken, 17; Kenton, 16; and Boone, 14.
  • Beshear said 70% of Kentucky’s prison inmates have been vaccinated, and his administration was working to allow in-person visitation of vaccinated inmates by vaccinated visitors.
  • Beshear said his current expectation is that there will be no mask mandate in schools in the fall.
  • study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, confirms what health officials have been widely reporting: Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing illness and death from the coronavirus in nursing homes, Deborah Yetter and Sarah Ladd report for the Louisville Courier Journal. According to a recent survey, they report, 70% of nursing-home residents but only 44% of nursing-home workers are vaccinated.
  • CDC says Covid-19 mask guidance is based on science; here’s what the studies say, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  • Kentucky schools hope to make it easy to get 12-15-year-olds vaccinated against Covid-19, the Herald-Leader reports.
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