Mixed news on COVID cases, record deaths; pressure on unemployment, vaccines

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state’s highest-ever number of newly reported deaths, while also noting the state’s positivity rate decreased.

And the governor continued to answer questions abut frustrations over not enough vaccines and continued delays with unemployment benefits processing. And Beshear said he expects the federal government to extend a ban on evictions again and the state will follow that lead by extending the state ban rules.

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“Once the feds extend it, we will, too,” Beshear said on the eviction issue.

But the number of cases remains a focus.

“We still have too many cases, but it does appear we are seeing a decline from our highest week ever. Our positivity rate is down again. Far higher than we want, but this is a good trend,” said Beshear. “The hard part though about today’s report is it’s the most deaths we ever announced.”

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

New cases today: 3,728
New deaths today: 58
Positivity rate: 11.05%
Total deaths: 3,301
Currently hospitalized: 1,604
Currently in ICU: 395
Currently on ventilator: 209

The number of people in the hospital and ICU continued the slow decline that began late last week.

And even the more than 3,700 new cases was the lowest Thursday in a month.

The positivity rate also continued its slow decline. But even with it, the state still had 116 red counties out of 120 counties. But all four of the non-red are in the region, with Robertson County sporting a yellow incidence rate and Menifee, Magoffin and Wolfe all orange.

Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton, Boone, Hardin, Warren and Daviess. Each of these counties reported 125 or more new cases; Jefferson County alone reported 604.

To see a list of those reported lost to the virus today, click here.

The Governor noted Kentucky’s COVID-19 mortality rate (1%) is lower than the national (1.7%) and world (2.2%) averages.

“This I think is a testament to providing education to Kentuckians about this virus and about what to do if you contract it. And it’s a testament to our health care workers,” said Gov. Beshear. “You’ve done your commonwealth and your country proud.”

He also asked both Kentuckians and health care providers to be patient throughout the COVID-19 vaccine roll out.

“Splitting vaccine shipments into really small quantities just wouldn’t make sense, and would slow us down,” said Beshear. “That’s why we’re distributing by region, by population. This is not a competition, this is about us trying to find the right partners for the right phase.”

The governor noted when the 1c tier group of people become eligible for the vaccine in 10 days, an estimated one million people will be eligible for the vaccine and almost no system is set up t handle an appointment plan, record-keeping, and related issues. That, on top of the lack of vaccines available from the manufacturers, makes patience critical.

“We need understanding, we need patience,” the governor stressed, noting the state can’t give vaccines when it does have the doses from the federal pipeline.

“We are going to see this at every step. Please try to be as understanding as you can,” he continued when asked about stories of 70-year-olds not being able to get vaccines while teachers can.

Both are in the same eligibility groups.

Questions continue t focus on unemployment benefits and calls by recipients to the media about not getting their money. While fraudulent claims are a part of the delay, many delays are simply the time it takes to get through claims that aren’t “routine.”

Handling those gets more frustrating for claimants when they can’t get appointments for phone interviews or even through on phone lines to get answers.

Beshear acknowledged the state is considering hiring more people who have the skills t actually solve cases to man phones. Ultimately, the Legislature will have to fund the governor’s request t make long-term financial commitments to address the fundamental staffing and computer problems.

The governor also shared a remembrance of one Kentuckian lost to COVID-19.

“Today, we share the story of Peggy Lynn Davis from Ashland, Ky. She was only 67 years old when she passed away on Friday from COVID-19,” said Beshear. “Peggy was loved by all, and her family saw that through the outpouring of wonderful stories about her after her death.

“Born and raised in Ashland, Peggy worked in health care and built her own successful business, even being recognized nationally. Despite this, Peggy always downplayed her professional accolades, saying her greatest accomplishments were her children.

“Now mourning Peggy’s loss are her husband, Robert Davis, their three sons, Bobby, JP and Wesley, and her three grandchildren.

“Her family said Peggy will be remembered as a selfless mother, not just to her family, but to everyone she cared for throughout her life. Today our thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Bobby, JP and Wesley.”

Tomorrow at 2 p.m. EST, Gov. Beshear, First Lady Britainy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman will honor Kentucky’s victims of COVID-19 in an outdoor ceremony. The memorial will include members of the Kentucky State Police Honor Guard as well as a performance by baritone Keith Dean of Frankfort.

The Governor, First Lady and Lieutenant Governor will also plant the final flags in a sea of more than 3,000 flags representing each Kentuckian lost to the virus.

To view the full daily reportincidence rate map, information on testing locationsvaccinescontact tracingschool reports and guidanceguidance for health care providers and the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky and more, visit kycovid19.ky.gov.