Pandemic roundup: Ky. ranks 29th in full vaccination; U of L Health to require staff shots; daily new-case average below 400

Chart showing reported coronavirus vaccine doses by day in Kentucky

Chart of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by The Washington Post

Kentucky ranks 29th among the states in percentage of population fully vaccinated for the coronavirus and 28th in the share of residents who have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to The Washington Post.

Chart showing reported coronavirus vaccine doses administered by day in the United States
Post graph from CDC data shows national figures
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 38 percent of Kentucky’s population is fully vaccinated and 46 percent of state residents have received at least one does of a vaccine. Two of the three available vaccines require two doses.
State officials emphasize the one-dose percentage. The state Department for Public Health says that among the Kentuckians who are eligible to get a vaccine, those age 12 and older, 54 percent have had a shot.
Color-coded county map of Kentucky showing percentage of county population with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine
Screenshot of state Dept. for Public Health interactive map, labeled by Kentucky Health News
The University of Louisville‘s health system will be the first major one in Kentucky to require employees to get a coronavirus vaccine. The rule will take effect Sept. 1, when it U of L Health expects at least one of the three vaccines currently approved for emergency use will have final federal approval. It estimates more than 70% of its 12,000 workers in five hospitals, four medical centers and over 200 physician practices have been vaccinated. “Atria Senior Living, an assisted-living company based in Louisville, requires the Covid-19 vaccines for its 10,000 member workforce nationwide, as do two other senior living companies with sites in Louisville, the Courier Journal reports.

Kroger Co. is offering customers, employees and other people who get a vaccination the chance to win $1 million or free groceries for a year, the Courier Journal reports: “The sweepstakes are being offered in collaboration with the Biden administration as part of the president’s bid to get the U.S. toward the threshold of herd immunity, where so many Americans are protected against the new coronavirus that it can’t spread.”

Alexandra Ellerbeck writes for The Washington Post: “The vaccination rate in the United States has fallen sharply from an average of more than 3 million shots a day in early April to around 1.62 million shots. And although the administration only needs to average about half a million shots a day to reach the July 4 deadline, the number of people who say they want a vaccine but haven’t gotten one is quickly shrinking. Only 4 percent of adults fall in the category of unvaccinated people who say they want a shot ‘as soon as possible.’ A similar proportion of people have an appointment scheduled for a vaccine or plan to make one in the next three months, even though they say they want to “wait and see” before getting a shot,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. “If both those groups follow through, it may be just enough to reach Biden’s goal.”

Daily numbers: The state reported 415 new cases of the virus, lowering the 7-day rolling average by 19, to 394 per day. This is the first time it has been below 400 since July 14, 2020. The new-case rate fell again, to 5.98 per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate were Webster, 39.7 per 100,000; Owen, 21; Union, 20.9; Robertson, 20.3; Bath, 17.1; Harlan, 15.9; Rowan, 15.8; Laurel, 14.8; Rockcastle, 13.7; Montgomery, 13.2; Taylor, 12.8; Adair, 12.6; and Casey, 12.4.

The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus over the last seven days fell 0.08 percentage points, to 2.43%. It has been below 3% since May 15.

Kentucky hospitals reported 338 Covid-19 patients, 103 of them in intensive care and 64 of those on a ventilator.

On Friday, the state lifted capacity restrictions on businesses and venues with capacities of 1,000 or less; restaurants and bars can fill to 75%. Memorial Day weekend travel will be a test of resistance to the virus, USA Today reports.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has gently joined calls for Gov. Andy Beshear to end extra unemployment benefits, as Republican governors have done but he and other Democrats have not. The chamber wrote Beshear Friday, “asking that the administration consider phasing out” the $300 weekly benefit by July instead of the federal program’s Sept. 30 ending date, Jacqueline Pitts writes for the chamber’s Bottom Line.

The business lobby told Beshear that a phase-out would “help address a serious workforce shortage faced by employers.” It said that wouldn’t be “a cure-all,” and “Steps must also be taken to increase access to high-quality child care, retrain and reskill workers, and increase vaccination rates. We also believe that return-to-work incentives, which other states have implemented, are worth exploring, particularly incentives that assist working parents to afford and have access to child care.”

Now that the governor is giving pandemic news briefings just once a week, and has resumed a travel schedule that looks to be aimed in part at getting re-elected in 2023, “Politicos are busy jostling over what voters should think of Beshear’s handling of the crisis,” writes Lexington Herald-Leader political reporter Daniel Desrochers. “Was he the steady leader who took decisive action to save the lives of thousands of Kentuckians during an unforeseen emergency or the power-hungry executive who overstepped his authority to control the daily lives of Kentuckians?” Kentucky’s infection rate was 29th among the states and territories, and its death rate was 32nd, Desrochers reports.

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