Most new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky since February

Vaccinated Kentuckians must start having “tough conversations” with their unvaccinated loved ones, Gov. Beshear says.
Gov. Beshear
Gov. Beshear(WKYT)
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 3:39 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WXIX) - The same week Kentucky saw its most new COVID-19 cases since February, the state also recorded a significant increase in vaccinations, possibly signaling the spread of the delta variant is breaking down vaccine reticence.

“We want to get back to normal, and if you are not vaccinated, you are preventing us from getting back to normal,” Gov. Andy Beshear said on Monday.

The governor encouraged patience and warned against frustration in communicating with those who are not vaccinated, especially in light of misinformation, for example about the vaccines causing infertility or magnetism.

“Misinformation is real,” Beshear said. “It kills people.”

Beshear said it’s the duty of vaccinated Kentuckians to have “tough conversations” with their unvaccinated loved ones, who are more at risk than ever.

“We need your help. They need your help. It may be a really uncomfortable conversation, but their life, and their health, and everyone defeating this virus, is on the line,” Beshear said. “So if you haven’t had that tough conversation, I really need you to now, because you might be the only person they trust that they listen to.”

Previously Kentucky health officials have provided the following information on the delta variant:

  • It is potentially three-fold as infectious as the original virus;
  • It is reinfecting previously infected people at three-fold the rate of the original virus;
  • It comprises almost every new COVID-19 infection in Kentucky, overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated; and
  • Vaccinations provide significant protection against breakthrough infections, and breakthrough infections result in less severe illness.

The variant is spreading like “wildfire” in Kentucky right now, the governor said.

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Kentuckains account for 94 percent of new cases, 91.5 of new hospitalizations and 88.7 percent of new deaths since March 1, according to Kentucky Department of Public Health data.

Weekly cases are rising. More, the positivity rate, now 9.77 percent, has risen for 38 consecutive days and is nearing exponential growth.

Hospital and ICU admissions are not a current concern, but Beshear said the patients coming in are sicker and need more care than before.

Some 63 percent of Kentuckians 18 and up have gotten vaccinated, or 2,319,635 Kentuckians. That includes more than 40,000 new vaccinations in the last week alone, a significant jump from previous weeks.

“We are headed in the right direction in our vaccine numbers for the first time in several months,” Beshear said.

New on Monday: Masks will be required in Kentucky’s state-run healthcare facilities. Unvaccinated Kentuckians in those facilities will be tested twice per week. Vaccinated Kentuckians will be tested if symptomatic, according to CDC guidelines.

Beshear said he had doubts about the effectiveness of vaccine mandates in schools or state offices. He also said he doubted whether a new mask mandate would work, though he noted it isn’t off the table.

On vaccine incentives, he said he would pursue whatever is proven to work.

“I don’t think there is any question that getting real, factual information about the dangers of the delta variant is the number one thing that can incentivize people to get vaccinated,” he said.

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