Beshear tells Kentuckians ‘stay strong,’ adds teachers to vaccine list

Gov. Andy Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to stay strong in the fight against COVID-19, as the state is just days away from beginning to administer life-saving vaccines.

“These vaccines are right around the corner. Within the next 10 days or so we might be giving out the first vaccines,” the Governor said on Friday. “That means every loss of life and every extra infection that happens between now and then is entirely avoidable. So, let’s fight harder than we ever have and do our part as Team Kentucky.”

Many of the COVID-19 numbers saw a decrease. That includes 3,614 new cases, down from Thursday’s total of 3,895, the second highest daily total reported to state public health officials. Kentucky’s combined positive cases since first reported on March 6 now stands at 194,193.

Six counties reported 100 or more new cases: Jefferson with 576, Fayette 351, Boone 118, Kenton 108, Warren 102 and Daviess had 100.

The number of deaths also dropped to 25, compared to 34 on Thursday, and brought the pandemic total to 2,039.

The latest deaths include a 76-year-old man from Boone County; a 69-year-old woman from Caldwell County; an 84-year-old woman from Christian County; a 70-year-old woman from Crittenden County; a 70-year-old man from Elliott County; a 74-year-old man from Franklin County; a 72-year-old woman and two men, ages 74 and 87, from Greenup County; an 87-year-old man from Hopkins County; two men, ages 67 and 71, from Jefferson County; two women, ages 40 and 64, and a 99-year-old man from Johnson County; a 55-year-old man from Lawrence County; an 82-year-old man from Lewis County; a 73-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man from Madison County; a 94-year-old man from Marion County; a 97-year-old woman from Marshall County; a 91-year-old woman from Martin County; an 83-year-old woman from McCracken County; a 77-year-old woman from Monroe County; and an 85-year-old woman from Muhlenberg County.

Hospitalizations dipped as well on Friday, to 1,792. Of them, 409 are in the ICU and 230 are on a ventilator.

The Governor also met virtually on Friday with the state’s public-school superintendents and asked them to begin planning for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the state’s education community.

Beshear said he expects the Pfizer two-dose vaccine to become available by Dec. 15 and that Kentucky will receive 38,000 doses in the first round of distribution. The initial doses will go to healthcare providers and nursing home residents and staff, though there won’t be enough to vaccinate them all.

Two weeks later, the state will receive the shipment of the Moderna vaccinations, which is twice as many as the first Pfizer delivery, Beshear said.

After healthcare providers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities, the state will prioritize EMS workers and educators.

“That recognizes the [virus] exposure that educators have within the building,” Beshear said. “But it also recognizes the absolute, critical importance of what they do and how much better in-person classes are.”

While he is unsure when educators will begin receiving the vaccines, Beshear asked the superintendents to begin preparing rosters of school personnel who are willing to be vaccinated. Though the vaccines are distributed at the federal level, state officials will direct where they need to go. He said while it is unlikely that one shipment of vaccines will cover everyone within a school, districts still should consider prioritizing those who have a higher chance of exposure to the virus.

To view the full daily report, testing locations, red zone counties and the red zone recommendation, current restrictions, the weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky, vaccine distribution and other key guidance, go to kycovid19.ky.gov.