FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Public Health Dr. Steven Stack say vaccinations are working to minimize COVID-19 across the Bluegrass State.
Beshear announced 231 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths reported in Kentucky for Monday, April 19. Of those cases, he says 168 are in Kentuckians 49-years-old or younger. The governor says the state will be watching this statistic closely as the virus is now hitting younger age groups harder. According to Beshear reporting 179 cases involving variants of concern, and 173 of those are the B.1.1.7. variant, also known as the U.K. variant.
The governor is urging people across the Bluegrass State to get vaccinated against the virus, especially as emerging variants increase concern of a potential fourth wave of infections without the vaccine. The governor says approximately half of Kentuckians 18 and older, or 1,665,196 people, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We have fought really hard to get where we are – a much better place than in the fall and winter – allowing us to streamline some of our guidance,” said Beshear. “I hope people are able to enjoy some of these capacity increases. We can do so safely if we continue to wear our masks.”
Beshear also says the virus is no longer disproportionate among minority groups regarding cases and deaths in the state due to better access to COVID-19 testing, medical care and vaccinations. The governor says Black and African-American Kentuckians make up 8.4% of the state’s population and of the state’s COVID-19 cases and deaths, they make up 8% and 8.1% respectively. Beshear says that percentage used to be 16% of the state’s cases, effectively cutting that percentage in half.
“COVID-19 laid bare the inequalities that have plagued our nation for far too long, highlighting the need for more work and progress to be made,” said Beshear. “That’s why my administration launched the 1-2-3 campaign to enroll more Black and Hispanic Kentucky residents in Medicaid. Now, we are working to ensure the equitable distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by increasing access and services to those underserved communities. The recognition of this month is another step in the right direction of a better Kentucky for all.”
Beshear also says vaccination efforts have reduced COVID-19 related deaths in long-term care facilities. At the height of the pandemic, more than 68% of all deaths in the state were connected to these facilities. After vaccination efforts began in the facilities, Dec. 21, 2020, those numbers have plummeted to nearly zero deaths in long-term care facilities reported each week.
With graduation season and summer around the corner, Stack says the state is releasing simplified guidance on the capacity for gatherings and for the minimum requirements of Healthy at Work.
For gatherings with fewer than 1,000 people, the capacity continues to be 60%, for gatherings with more than 1,000 people the capacity will be limited to 50%.
The minimum requirements for Healthy at Work now include:
- Physical distancing;
- Facial coverings;
- Hand washing and sanitizing;
- Common areas; and
- Daily temperature/health checks.
Stack says the state has more information on the requirements published online.
“I look forward to the day when we put COVID behind us and none of these guidelines are needed,” Stack said. “The way we get there though is for everyone to make the choice to get vaccinated.”