Beshear commits to beating White House deadline for mass vaccine eligibility

Kentucky’s plan for the vaccine rollout’s final stretch will be released later this week.

Gov. Beshear updates vaccine rollout after 9th week of COVID decline in Ky.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday previewed the release of Kentucky’s latest vaccine schedule by promising to beat the Biden Administration’s deadline for mass vaccine eligibility.

President Joe Biden wants all adults to be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1. Supply will continue to be constrained during that month, but the president has promised there will be enough vaccine doses for anyone who wants one by May’s end.

Beshear said Monday Kentucky could get to mass eligibility earlier than that.

“Our commitment is to beat the May 1st date,” Beshear said.

The governor added the schedule for Kentucky’s vaccine rollout over the final few months leading up to the end of May will be released sometime later this week.

The rollout was already significantly expanded last week, when Kentucky added certain health conditions that may place people at elevated risk for severe COVID-19.

Included among the CDC-identified conditions are those with Type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and those who are overweight. The only condition the CDC places in this pool that Kentucky has removed is smoking.

With the expanded eligibility, now all Kentuckians who are overweight (body mass index of 25-30), obese (BMI of 30-40) or severely obese (BMI of 40 and up) are eligible to receive the vaccine. More than 2 in 3 adults nationally are considered to be overweight or have obesity, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, around half of Americans have high blood pressure.

To date, 1,002,356 Kentuckians have received at least one vaccine dose.

The state succeeded in getting 142,166 doses in arms over the last six days, beating last week’s total by 15,000 doses. Kentucky has now used every dose it’s received up through the most recent allocation round.

COVID Plateau?

Kentucky recorded 396 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Monday.

Kentucky has now recorded nine consecutive weeks of declining weekly case totals, though by a smaller margin last week than any week prior.

“We’ve had nine straight weeks of declining cases and if we continue to see this trend, we can relax some of the restrictions even more,” Beshear said. “But we need to be careful and make sure we bring everybody to the finish line.”

The positivity rate of 3.99 percent indicates a plateau in the rate, something the governor said he will be watching going forward, as the rate is a leading indicator of the virus.

Indicators for hospitalizations, ICU admissions and ventilator use continue to fall.

Currently 464 Kentuckians are hospitalized with COVID-19, of which 114 are in ICUs and 67 are on ventilators.

5,000 Dead

With 23 new virus-related deaths reported Monday, many going back to February and January, Kentucky has surpassed 5,000 COVID-19 deaths.

To date, Kentucky has reported 5,005 COVID-19-related deaths in total.

The figure is likely to rise significantly due to an audit of deaths following the disclosure of an undercount going back to November. The results of that audit are expected Thursday.

Beshear launched the Team Kentucky COVID-19 Memorial Fund, which will help make a permanent memorial on Capitol grounds a reality.

“This fund will help us make sure no Kentuckian is ever forgotten,” he said. “Kentuckians can dedicate a donation to someone they’ve lost or someone they want to honor.

“Soon we’ll announce an artist call to encourage artists to submit their ideas for something that can truly encapsulate the grief, hope, togetherness, difficulty – all of those things we have felt this past year. The sleepless nights, but also, the coming-together.”

Child Care Update

Beshear announced Monday licensed child-care facilities are returning to traditional classroom group sizes.

By Kentucky statute, the group sizes range from 10 for infants (with a 1:5 staff-to-child ratio) to 30 for kids ages 7 and older (with a 1:25 staff-to-child ratio.)

“A bright day in Kentucky just got brighter,” Beshear said. “The care that has been taken to protect Kentucky’s children and hard-working child care staff will continue even as group sizes increase.”

Children and adults will be screened for fever and contagious symptoms when they enter child care facilities. Personal protective equipment will be provided and worn, and proper sanitization and infection-control measures will be required.

Social distancing requirements will continue to be observed and facility visits will be limited. The same staff members are being asked to work with the same children each day, reducing potential exposure.

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