We are posting the updates from Governor Beshear as a service to our readers, along with the full video of the press conference. The summary comes from the KY Health News site, and the video is straight from YouTube. The summary includes both points from the Beshear press conference and news items related to those bullets.

Summary from KY Health News (original post)

After months of feeling frustrated that they were not placed on a par with school personnel, which would have prioritized them to get a shot for the novel coronavirus, child-care workers have been placed in Phase 1B and can move to the front of the line, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday.

Written by Melissa Patrick of Kentucky Health News

“The decision to move child-care workers up was based on both listening to those individuals, understanding where they were coming from, but just as importantly” the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “moving them up as well . . . without significant announcement or fanfare,” Beshear said at a news conference. “We’re where we think the timing is right for it.”

The state is now vaccinating those in Phase 1A, which includes long-term-care and assisted-living facilities and health-care personnel, and 1B, which includes first responders, anyone 70 and older, K-12 school personnel and, now, child-care workers.

Beshear said child-care workers can now sign up at any location that offers the vaccine, and health departments are being asked to focus on them and people 70 and older.

Deborah Yetter of the Louisville Courier Journal has reported about the frustrations of this group of essential workers. She writes, “In a Jan. 15 letter, 20 organizations led by the United Way of Kentucky sent an “urgent request” to the Beshear administration asking that child-care workers be included with other school staff for vaccine priority.”

Kentucky was expected to wrap up vaccinating all of its K-12 teachers and school staff who wanted the coronavirus vaccine last week, making it the first state to accomplish that task, Education Week reports. The teachers’ union, the Kentucky Education Association, supported Beshear’s election.

Many teachers continue to work remotely, but Beshear has said getting them vaccinated would make reopening schools safer. The CDC said last week that wasn’t required if other safeguards were followed.

Beshear reported that over 12 percent of Kentuckians have received a first dose of vaccine. The state’s vaccine report shows 538,298 Kentuckians have received their first shot.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Inspector General Adam Mather announced that CVS Health and Walgreens, which have provided vaccines to the state’s long-term care facilities through a federal program, are now offering their third and final clinics, where only second doses will be given.

As of Feb. 1, only 45% of long-term care staff had been vaccinated through this program, according to state data. Health Commissioner Steven Stack said last week that any staffer who did not get vaccinated through the program can still sign up at any of the state’s locations because they are health-care workers.

Mather said CVS and Walgreens, working with the state, have expanded the program to seniors in low income housing, adults in the Acquired Brain Injury waiver program, and participants in the Supports for Community Living program. Mather said they vaccinated over 2,000 people in these groups Feb. 12-14.

Beshear acknowledged that canceling and rescheduling vaccinations because of bad weather has created anxiety, but assured Kentuckians that they would get vaccinated. “We will get you that shot of hope,” he said.

Today’s numbers: The state put numbers on what Beshear announced Sunday, that the state has had five weeks of declining cases for the first time since the pandemic surfaced in Kentucky 49 weeks ago. Cases declined from a high of 26,799 the week beginning Jan. 4, to 13,008 in the week ended Sunday.

“This is the type of decrease that we want to see and we want to keep it going,” Beshear said. “If we can keep it going, we can look at easing some capacity restrictions, maybe being able to do a little bit more . . . this makes everything safer around us, so let’s continue this good work.”

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days fell again, to 6.57%. This rate, which Beshear called a leading indicator that shows how “hot” a state is, has also dropped for five weeks in a row.

Graph showing decreasing cases
Dept. for Public Health graph, relabeled by Ky. Health News

The governor also cautioned that it will be important to remain careful and to continue to do the “right things” because of the new coronavirus variants, which can potentially spread more quickly.

Beshear announced 723 new cases of the virus Monday, cautioning that the number could be low because the weather could have affected health departments’ ability to report. “But, this does follow the trend we have been seeing and so we hope that we’ll continue to see that in the data as we go.”

The state’s seven-day rolling average of new cases fell to 1,539 per day, the lowest since Oct. 28. However, its seven-day infection rate is fifth in the nation, says The New York Timescompilation.

As case numbers drop, so do county-level infection rates. Today, 41 of the state’s 120 counties are no longer in the red zone, for counties averaging 25 cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days.

Statewide, the infection rate is 30.68 per 100,000 people. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Marion, 63 per 100,000; Metcalfe, 68.1; McCreary, 82.1; Owsley, 84.1; Clinton, 85.3; and Russell, 92.5.

Kentucky hospitals reported 969 Covid-19 patients, the first time that number has been below 1,000 since Nov. 2. A higher-than-usual share of them, 268, were in intensive care, and 132 of those were on ventilators, but all three metrics continued a downward trend. Only one hospital readiness region had 80% or more of its ICU beds filled: Lake Cumberland, at 88.9%

Beshear reported nine more deaths from Covid-19, all but one of them confirmed. That brings the state’s death toll to 4,291.

“There was a time when nine new deaths were tough to hear, and it’s still tragic,” Beshear said. “And again, if this is us moving in the right direction, we’d like to see a lot fewer than we’ve recently had to report.”

In other coronavirus news Monday:

  • Today’s fatalities were a Hancock County man, 78; a Hopkins County woman, 64; three Shelby County men, 73, 79 and 91; two Spencer County women, 73 and 84; and two Spencer County men, 73 and 88.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 144; Fayette, 60; Madison, 36; Boone and Pike, 27; Warren, 24; Bullitt and Kenton, 23; Carter, 21; Daviess, 18; Campbell, 16; Whitley, 14; Jessamine, 13; Pulaski, 12; and Woodford, 10.
  • In long-term care, there are 249 active resident cases and 187 active staff cases, with 12 new resident cases and 20 new staff cases announced today. Beshear attributed 15 more long-term-care deaths to Covid-19, bringing the total to 2,224. Mather said no facility in Kentucky has 15 or more active cases of the virus. Beshear said vaccinations there have helped.
  • As kindergarten through second graders gear up for a return to in-person learning in Lexington, health department officials say to get ready for entire classrooms to be quarantined at one time,Valarie Honeycutt Spears reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Most of Kentucky’s districts have resumed in-person schooling. As of Feb. 10, 160 districts are holding in-person classes, with 159 districts having students attend such classes two or more days per week, Kentucky School Boards Association officials said.
  • Daniel Desrochers of the Herald-Leader created a map showing where Kentucky’s vaccine doses went in the first two months of distribution. Such data can have anomalies; the state sent 18,350 doses to Perry County, enough to cover 71.2 percent of the population, but a health official in the region told Desrochers that all of the vaccine for the Appalachian Regional Healthcare system first goes to Perry County, which has an ARH hospital.
  • Pop-up vaccine clinics in Louisville are reaching people “where they’re at,” Yetter and Sarah Ladd report for the Courier Journal. Dr. Edward Miller, diversity officer for University of Louisville Health, told the newspaper that one goal is to “ensure older people who might not be as adept at online sign-ups — or who might be wary of the new Covid-19 vaccine — have access to it in a familiar environment,” they write.
  • More than 1,000 veterans received vaccinations at the Louisville VA Medical Center on Sunday, Joel Schipper reports for WDRB.
  • Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC director, told CNN that new cases of the virus have been dropping for weeks not because of vaccinations, but because people are following public-health rules. “It’s what we’re doing right: staying apart, wearing masks, not traveling, not mixing with others indoors,” he said, adding later: “We’ve had three surges. Whether or not we have a fourth surge is up to us.”
  • At least 32 million of the 142 million BinaxNOW rapid Covid-19 tests distributed by the U.S. government to states starting last year hadn’t been used by early February, according to a Wall Street Journal review of inventories. As many of these tests approach their six-month expiration date, some states still have not used them due to “logistical hurdles and accuracy concerns,” the Journal reports. Asked about it, Beshear said the tests have been “a tool in the toolbox” and have been used at long-term-care and corrections facilities, though they “weren’t nearly as accurate” as the standard test.
  • Tenants in all counties except Fayette and Jefferson can apply for rent and utility assistance to cover their past-due and future bills through the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund at teamkyhherf.ky.gov. To apply in Fayette County: covid19renterhelp.org; to apply in Jefferson County: stopmyeviction.org.
  • For snow and ice updates and resources, visit snowky.ky.gov. For updates on roadway conditions, visit goky.ky.gov.

Video of Beshear 2/15 press conference

Note: Presser begins with weather and road update.

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Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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