FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday announced a vaccination goal for Kentuckians that will result in the end of most health orders when met.
Beshear said once 2.5 million Kentuckians receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, capacity restrictions and the curfew will be lifted statewide on all businesses with total capacities fewer than 1,000 people — or, as the governor put it, “almost everything other than schools.”
If every available vaccine appointment is taken statewide, Kentucky could be as few as three-and-a-half weeks from that point, Beshear said.
More likely, the state is between four and six weeks away.
“We have to try everything to reach this point as quickly as possible,” Beshear said. “That will help us have a more normal summer than any of us could have imagined this winter.”
Masking would remain in effect and mass gatherings would still be limited until COVID-19 variants are under control and more Kentucky children are able to be vaccinated.
Currently around 1.6 million Kentuckians have gotten at least one vaccine dose. The Kentucky Department of Public Health’s current tally of 1,556,419 is around three days behind, Beshear explained, due to a security update in the reporting system.
The 2.5 million mark represents 70 percent of Kentucky’s adult population. Beshear has previously cited estimates from health experts placing herd immunity against COVID-19 at 70 percent of vaccine uptake.
“This is a big deal,” KDPH Dr. Steven Stack said. “This is our exit strategy from COVID-19.”
Beshear noted the vaccination goal could motivate private businesses to provide incentives to customers, such as a discount for vaccinations.
The governor advocated for similar incentives last week when asked about the possibility of Kentucky adopting a so-called vaccine “passport,” which he said the state would not do.
“This is certainly an effort to reach out to the business community saying, help us get there,” Beshear said.
Kentucky now has lab-confirmed cases of all three COVID variants of concern, including 149 cases of the UK variant.
Monday the state recorded 270 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven new virus-related deaths. All the deaths happened in February or before.
Kentucky’s case plateau is now reflected in a plateaued positivity rate and plateaued hospitalization data. The current positivity rate is 2.16 percent, which is the highest it’s been in four weeks.
“We’ve always gone from a plateau to an increase, but that doesn’t have to happen this time,” Beshear said, referencing the state’s three case surges throughout the pandemic. “Every other time, we haven’t had a vaccine.”
Active cases of COVID-19 continue to decline in long-term care facilities. No new LTC deaths were reported Monday. Currently there are 44 active cases among LTC residents statewide and 68 active cases among LTC staff.
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