Kentucky expands vaccine eligibility, raises curfew for bars and restaurants

The state also released results from a mortality audit that found 604 previously unreported deaths.

Kentucky expands vaccine eligibility, raises curfew for bars and restaurants
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (Source: Facebook: Governor Andy Beshear)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentuckians 16 and up will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by April 12, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday.

Beshear noted that is the latest date for mass eligibility and that he hopes to open eligibility up to all adult Kentuckians before April 12.

Additionally, Kentuckians 50 and up will be added to Phase 1C, and therefore eligible to receive a vaccine, on Monday.

Kentuckians in that group can schedule an appointment now for Monday or beyond. They should also look to make appointments this weekend, according to Beshear, because vaccine providers must still get out 90 percent of the vaccines they receive every week.

“Kentuckians deemed most vulnerable should still get priority, and they will, but we can’t have these vaccines sitting in a freezer. We are in a race against the COVID-19 variants and we’ve got to get it out fast,” said Beshear.

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.

Some 1,231,965 Kentuckians have received at least one vaccine dose, including 54,535 in the two reporting days since Tuesday.

Curfew Raised

Beshear also announced the curfew for restaurants and bars will be extended starting Friday. Restaurant sand bars in Kentucky will then be able to serve until midnight and must close by 1 a.m.

Capacity limits and the mask mandate remain in effect.

“Hopefully this is a little bit of relief, given the positive movement of where we are as a state with vaccines going up and cases going down,” Beshear said.

Kentucky recorded 785 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday. The state’s positivity rate of 3.23 percent is the lowest it’s been since July 3.

Beshear also reported 448 virus-related deaths, a spike explained by the state’s mortality audit.

COVID-19 Mortality Audit

Also Thursday, Gov. Beshear released the results of an audit relating to COVID-19 deaths that occurred during the winter surge. Ohio and Indiana have performed similar audits, with Ohio recording more than 4,000 previously unreported deaths last month.

According to Kentucky’s audit, 604 more deaths occurred as a result of COVID-19 than were previously reported.

Some 417 of those deaths are contained in Thursday’s report. The rest will be in the coming days’ reports.

Beshear explained the ordinary process for recording a death in Kentucky, which he has previously said suffered a partial breakdown during the winter surge, leading to the audit.

Local health departments report deaths to the Department of Public Health. Then a committee reviews the case to ensure COVID-19 did contribute to the death. If the committee determines it did, the death is added to the state’s daily report. Beshear noted the committee has overruled the cause of death in some cases where COVID-19 is listed as contributing by the local health department.

In the audit, DPH pulled every death certificate in the state that listed COVID-19 as a cause and compared it to the COVID deaths Kentucky has reported in that time span. For ostensible COVID-19 deaths where DPH did not have a corresponding report, DPH looked for a positive COVID-19 test in the patient’s case history, then reviewed the documentation to make sure COVID-19 contributed to the death.

“Our commitment is to first be accurate,” Beshear said, “but second to make sure that there are no unknown soldiers, that we recognize every individual we have lost and every grieving family.”

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