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2 cases of UK coronavirus variant reported in Kentucky

The new variant raises the stakes for Kentucky’s vaccine rollout just as the federal government has promised more doses.
More than 20 states have reported cases of the UK variant of the coronavirus as of Friday.
More than 20 states have reported cases of the UK variant of the coronavirus as of Friday.(Houston Dept. of Health via CNN)
Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 6:31 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky has two confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

The UK variant spreads more aggressively. There is no scientific consensus on whether it is more deadly. The UK’s chief scientist says that’s possible, though it remains to be seen whether observed increases in mortality are rather due to an overburdened healthcare system.

More than 22 states have reported cases of the UK variant. Other variants from South Africa and Brazil are also drawing attention as scientists work to determine whether they are more virulent or deadly.

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack will be on hand with Beshear at Wednesday’s 4 p.m. press briefing to discuss the implications. FOX19 NOW will carry the stream live on our website and Facebook.

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Kentucky and other states received positive news from the federal government Tuesday as President Joe Biden revealed on a call with governors that weekly vaccine allocations will increase countrywide by 17 percent.

On Monday Beshear called the restrictive federal supply “an extreme limitation that is holding us back from getting our people vaccinated as quickly as we want.”

He has argued since mid January that Kentucky’s ability to administer vaccines was fivefold greater than the 56,000-odd weekly doses it is being allocated.

The governor has sent letters to the federal government as well as vaccine manufacturers requesting more doses, leveraging Kentucky’s 78 percent rate of doses administered/received to showcase the efficiency of the state’s rollout.

Word of the countrywide increase came as welcome news Tuesday.

“That is a great start,” Beshear said. “The other thing they are doing is guaranteeing a minimum supply for three straight weeks. One of the tough things we’ve been dealing with is only knowing on a Tuesday what we would have the next week and not knowing what we would have in the weeks after.”

Kentucky has successfully administered first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all long-term care residents and staff members in the state who have agreed to receive one, Beshear said Monday.

The news represents a significant milestone, as around two-thirds of all COVID-related deaths have occurred in skilled nursing homes and assisted-living communities.

K-12 educators, at both public and private schools, are on track to receive their first shots the first week of February.

Kentucky has received 466,700 total vaccine doses, a figure unchanged from Monday.

Of the total doses received, 120,900 have been diverted to the long-term care facility program per a federal contract. These include first and second doses.

Of those doses, 48,269 have been administered, an increase of 1,164 since Monday.

Of the 345,800 doses funneled through the state program, 271,339 have been administered, an increase of 9,542 since Thursday.

A total of 319,608 doses have been administered in the state.

Kentucky recorded 2,714 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 35 new virus-related deaths.

Kentucky’s rolling seven-day positivity rate continues to fall. Currently it is 9.63 percent, a decline of nearly three points since the rate crested in early January.

Hospitalizations increased 27 from Monday, but the overall trend line remains negative.

Currently 1,566 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Kentucky. Of those hospitalized, 391 are in ICUs and 228 are on ventilators.

Daily new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky
Daily new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky(WXIX)

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