By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News
Vaccination for the coronavirus is on the rise
in Kentucky, as the state’s seven-day rolling average of daily shots has risen to more than 16,500 after falling below 10,000 per day two weeks ago.
At his first regular non-pandemic press conference yesterday, Gov. Andy Beshear said more than 437,000 vaccinated Kentuckians had signed up for lottery-style sweepstakes drawings for three $1 million prizes and 15 postsecondary education scholarships.
Asked how much impact he thought the incentives were having, Beshear said they are having an effect, but “I admit it’s hard to tell how much of an impact they’re making, because we don’t know how many people would be signing up otherwise.”
He said he would like to see more vaccinated 12-to-17-year-olds enter the scholarship drawing than the 23,080 who have signed up. He said the state is doing better among adults that Ohio did in its first two weeks of similar incentives, but not as well as Ohio did with young people. He said his son Will, who turned 12 Tuesday, got vaccinated Wednesday.
|State chart shows cumulative vaccination numbers. Click it to enlarge.
Beshear said he hoped the first of three drawings, to be held July 2, would stimulate more interest. Noting the signup numbers, he said, “Those are the best odds you’re ever gonna get at winning a million dollars or getting a free ride to higher education.” Sign up at Vaccine.ky.gov by July 1 for the first drawing. Signing up also makes you eligible for the later drawings.
Private groups are also offering incentives. Beshear noted that vaccinated people can get free tickets to the weekly Troubadour Concert Series
at Cardome in Georgetown, sponsored by High Bridge Springs Water
and Wild Health
, which will be on hand to provide vaccinations.
Beshear said he is the first Kentucky governor to have a standing schedule of press conferences, to be held each Thursday at 12:30 ET.
“After 15 long months of fighting the pandemic and hosting more than 250 news conferences to keep Kentuckians to keep Kentuckians up to date, I know that making sure you have an opportunity to hear regularly from your governor or other state leaders is important. And we cannot forget we’re still fighting this pandemic.”
Pandemic-related issues came up in questions at the event.
Asked why he thinks the state has a significant labor shortage, Beshear said part of the reason is the extra unemployment benefits of $300 a week that most Republican governors have ended and that businesses in Kentucky have asked him to end. But that was the last reason he cited; the others were a shortage of child care and reluctance of people to take jobs that require face-to-face contact with the public at a time when less than half the population has had a vaccination.
But he said he is working on a “back to work bonus incentive” that he hopes to announce next week, and he said in response to another question that there is a possibility he could end the $300 weekly benefit before its federal funding expires at the end of September. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce asked May 28
that Beshear end it by July; 30 days’ notice is required to stop it.
Republicans have been hammering on the Democratic governor about the Beshear said he is “trying to thread the needle. . . . I’m the first to say that we can’t have everybody looking for a job at the end of September.”
Beshear said the state still has $200 million in federal relief money to help people pay rent and utilities, more than two-thirds of the $297 million it received. He said that surprises him, since so many people were financially affected by the pandemic. The money can pay 12 months of back bills and three months forward.
Daily numbers: The state reported 255 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, lowering the seven-day rolling average to 216 cases per day, the lowest since last July 4, just before a surge in cases began. The average has dropped by more than 100 in the last week.
The daily new-case rate for the last seven days is 3.83 per 100,000. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Webster, 21 per 100,000; Perry, 20.5; Elliott, 17.1; Graves, 15.3; Hopkins, 11.5; Livingston, 10.9; Mason, 10; Fleming, 9.8; Carter, 9.1; Breathitt, 9; Union, 8.9; Bracken, 8.6; Knox, 8.3; Gallatin, 8.1; Grant, 8; and Letcher, 8.
The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days is 2.06 percent, about where it has been for more than a week.
Hospitalization numbers continue to decline slowly or remain fairly stable. Kentucky hospitals reported 229 Covid-19 patients Thursday, 66 of them in intensive care and 36 of those on a ventilator.
The state reported three Covid-19 deaths Thursday, bringing its toll to 7,178. Deaths are also declining; over the last 14 days, they have averaged 7.2 per day; in the last seven days, the average is 5.7 per day.