State Dept. for Public Health chart, with extra labeling by Ky. Health News; click it to enlarge
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Looking forward to the day when Kentucky has enough coronavirus vaccines for anyone who wants one, the state now has 156 locations able to provide what the lieutenant governor called the “shot of hope,” six of them new regional vaccine sites.
In addition to the six new regional sites, which can be added to the eight that have already opened, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that 10 Kroger stores, 15 Walmart stores, and 125 pharmacies, along with local health departments and community health centers, will now be providing vaccines.
“That is a big deal,” Beshear said at his last news briefing of the week. “It’s going to move us forward and build out what we need to ensure especially as supply increases, whenever that’s going to happen, that we are ready to get it out and get it out quickly all over the state.”
That day could come as soon as early spring, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, predicted Thursday,
“By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, ‘open season,’ namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Today” show, adding that logistically, once that happens it will take several months to get everyone vaccinated who wants one.
Health Commissioner Steven Stack explained that because the state’s population is not equally distributed and vaccine access also varies across the state, some sites will move to the Phase 1C category before others. Phase 1C includes people 60 and older, people with high-risk conditions, and all essential workers. He said that getting people 60 and older vaccinated is important because they account for 91 percent of the state’s deaths attributed to Covid-19.
Asked if Kentucky would offer a special program like Ohio has started to continue vaccinating staff in long-term-care facilities once the federal program wraps up, Stack said there is no plan to do so, since all staff are in the health-care priority group and can get vaccinated at any of the state’s vaccine sites.
As of Feb. 1, the federal vaccine program, led by Walgreens and CVS Health, had vaccinated about 73% of the residents and 45% of the staff, according to data obtained from the state.
New vaccine sites: New regional sites will be in Columbia, Frankfort, Grayson, Henderson, Louisa and Morganfield. The state already has sites in Covington, Bowling Green, Murray, Glasgow, Lexington, Danville and Paducah. Go to vaccine.ky.gov to learn how to sign up for a shot at one of these sites.
Two of the 10 new Kroger sites will be in Ashland. Others will be in Brandenburg, Campbellsville, Carrollton, Elizabethtown, London, Maysville, Murray and Paducah. Go to Kroger.com/Covid Vaccine to make an appointment.
The 15 Walmart sites are in Corbin, Berea, Campbellsville, Carrollton, Central City, Crestwood, La Grange, Mayfield, Paducah, Paintsville, Richmond, Shelbyville, Shepherdsville, Tompkinsville and Winchester. Go to Walmart.com/CovidVaccine to make an appointment.
The Federal Pharmacy Program, which brings about 13,000 first doses to the state, will be offered at 78 Walgreens branches and 47 independent pharmacies that are part of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy brand. Click here for a list of participating pharmacies. Click here to make an appointment at a Walgreens.
Stack said many of the 78 Walgreens locations still have slots available. Click here to get an address for each of the aforementioned new locations.
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who led most of the briefing, announced several state initiatives aimed at providing equitable access to the vaccine. “Our administration is committed to providing equitable access to the vaccine, and we know that there are significant barriers in both rural and urban parts of the state,” she said.
One initiative will allow people living in Anderson, Boyle, Casey, Franklin, Garrard, Jessamine, Lincoln, Mercer, Scott, Washington and Woodford counties to get free transportation to and from vaccine sites at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington or Ephraim McDowell Hospital in Danville. To reserve a ride, residents should call Blue Grass Community Action Partnership Transit at 800-456-6588 at least 24 hours in advance of their vaccine appointment time.
Another initiative, through Norton Healthcare vaccine clinics, will work to reach at-risk, under-served people who are 70 and older in Louisville at St. Stephen Baptist Church and Bates Memorial Baptist Church. Stack said the state is also partnering with King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, which will do vaccine-outreach with other Black churches and communities in the next few weeks. Deborah Yetter of the Louisville Courier Journal reports on the “quiet” church campaign in Louisville to vaccinate more African Americans.
Another partner, the University of Kentucky, will offer four outreach clinics on successive Saturdays with mobile vaccination units in areas with under-served populations due to race, language, economic or other barriers.
The state’s daily report shows 497,256 Kentuckians have received an initial dose of the vaccine.
|Photos from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain new CDC guidance on masking.|
Stack also said the new CDC guidance that says people who are seven days past their second dose of vaccine do not need to quarantine for up to 11 weeks if exposed to the virus also came with a warning, that we still don’t know for sure if the vaccines will prevent a person from getting infected with a mild disease or be infected with no symptoms, both situations that could result in the spread of the disease.
Therefore, he said the “key point” from this guidance is that even after being vaccinated, it will be important to follow the current guidance that calls on people to wear mask, social distance, practice good hand hygiene, and to avoid social gatherings.
“We still don’t have enough people, anywhere near enough people, protected directly and so . . . we don’t take our eye off the ball, we don’t let down our guard,” Stack said. He also advised that any decision to quarantine or not, even after being vaccinated, should be made in consultation with your local health department.
The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days dropped again, to 7.08%, the lowest this rate has been since Nov. 6. “That is good news,” said Beshear.
However, other states have improved too, and Kentucky’s infection rate in the week ended Feb. 7 was sixth highest in the nation, according to the latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. A daily compilation by The New York Times ranked Kentucky third on Thursday.
|White House Coronavirus Task Force chart, with Kentucky’s rank highlighted; click it to enlarge.|
Deaths from the virus remain high. Beshear announced that the state had listed 36 more deaths, 31 confirmed and five probable. That took the death toll to 4,211. The 14-day death average went way down, to 42.9; the deadliest day, 69, was 15 days ago. The seven-day average also dropped, to 41.4, because one of the two days tied for second most deaths, 58, was eight days ago.
Beshear honored the life of Gladys Lowenthal Bass, whose obituary said she died of “Covid-19 and a broken heart.” Bass was 94 and the wife of Humana co-founder Lewis “Sonny” Bass, who died from the virus just eight weeks ago.
“So this is vicious. It takes people that we know and love,” Beshear said. “Let’s make sure we continue to do the right things to protect those around us. I don’t want to have 35 deaths again in the course of this pandemic, and we can do something about that. What we do is wear those masks, engage in social distancing, and then prepare to vaccinate people as quickly as possible.”
In other coronavirus news Thursday:
- The state’s daily report said the statewide case-incidence rate for the last seven days fell to 37.4 per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate are Russell, 98.8; Allen, 98.5; Clinton, 90.9; McCreary, 90.4; and Marion, 74.9.
- Counties with 10 or more new cases were: Jefferson, 283; Fayette, 109; Kenton, 104; Boone, 59; Daviess, 48; Warren, 48; Pulaski, 46; Hardin, 39; Campbell, 34; Laurel, 34; Barren, 33; Madison, 32; Russell, 31; Montgomery, 30; Franklin, 29; Christian, 27; Bullitt, 26; Taylor, 26; Marshall, 25; Whitley, 25; Rowan, 23; Lewis, 22; Shelby, 22; McCracken, 20; Scott, 20; Allen, Boyle, Hopkins and Nelson, 19; Boyd, 18; Jessamine, 17; Floyd, Henderson and Metcalfe, 16; Harlan, Logan, McCreary, Marion, Pike and Wayne, 15; Lincoln and Perry, 14; Hart and Woodford, 13; Clay, Grant and Trigg, 12; Bell. Grayson, Knott and Washington, 11; and Clinton and Knox, 10.
The 36 fatalities listed Thursday were a Barren County man, 91; two Calloway County men, 53 and 63; a Clay County woman, 77; a Crittenden County woman, 78; a Fayette County woman, 89; a Fleming County man, 91; three Harlan County men, 38, 59 and 73; a Hart County man, 66; a Jefferson County woman, 92; two Jefferson County men, 66 and 71; a Laurel County man, 55; two Lawrence County women, 92 and 94; two Letcher County women, 69 and 82; a McCracken County woman, 62; three Madison County women, 82, 86 and 91; four Madison County men, 66, 75, 76 and 96; a Marion County woman, 89; two Marshall County men, 64 and 69; a Meade County woman, 75; two Mercer County women, 84 and 85; two Nelson County men, 84 and 88; and a Perry County woman, 70.
Hospitalization numbers returned to normal after a one-day spike. Kentucky hospitals reported 1,142 Covid-19 patients, down 49 from Wednesday; 278 intensive-care patients, down 58; and 156 of them on ventilators, down 13; but the percentage of ICU patients on ventilation rose to 56%, 4 percentage points above average.
In long-term-care, 22 more residents and 19 more employees have tested positive for the virus; cases are active in 285 residents and 201 staff. Beshear said four more deaths can be attributed to the virus in these facilities, bringing their death toll to 2,209. Covid-19 deaths of residents of the facilities are down to 54.6% of the state’s total.
Four of the 10 hospital-readiness regions are using more than 80% of their intensive-care beds: Barren River, 82.4%; the northeast region, 84.4%; the easternmost region, 81.6%; and Lake Cumberland, 97.8%.
- Starting Feb. 15, Kentuckians needing assistance with rent or utilities to cover their past-due or future bills should reach out to the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund. People in Fayette County should apply at covid19renterhelp.org; people in Jefferson County should apply at stopmyeviction.org; and the other 118 counties should apply at teamkyhherf.ky.gov. Click here for the news release.
- Click here for an unemployment update in the governor’s press release.
- Local health departments in Eastern Kentucky report on their new coronavirus cases and deaths, Hazard’s WYMT reports.