1C category vaccines start next week; Easing restrictions could be closer

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)Gov. Andy Beshear announced COVID-19 cases have declined for six straight weeks in the commonwealth. He also reported the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since Oct. 5.

“The trends are going in a positive direction, perhaps the most positive since the pandemic began,” said Beshear, who has indicated if the numbers continue, the state could be closer to easing some restrictions on businesses and others.. “What that means is that we’re doing a good job. Do I think that vaccines are starting to have an impact? Certainly in the long-term care community. Hopefully we’ll see more of it in the overall state. But we’re seeing more people wearing masks, engaging in social distancing, thinking about the number of contacts they have in their day, and it is working.”

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The governor said regional vaccination sites will open to Kentuckians in Phase 1C beginning March 1, and he expects other vaccination sites to move into Phase 1C around the same time.

But it will take time as the category contains an estimated 1.5 million people ranging from residents over 60 to essential workers.

Beshear encouraged all vaccine sites to continue prioritizing Phase 1A and 1B individuals, even as 1C appointments are made as well. He asked all providers to continue outreach to vulnerable Kentuckians who may have a harder time navigating the vaccine sign-up system.

More than 583,000 Kentuckians have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, updated Kentuckians on the federal pharmacy program for COVID-19 vaccines.

“The good news is, we have wildly expanded our vaccine provider network in a very short time frame,” said Dr. Stack. “As of today, we have 47 independent pharmacies and 77 Walgreens pharmacies across the state participating in this program to help get vaccines to Kentuckians right in their local communities. We are going to continue to move progressively faster, getting closer and closer to where you live.”

Finally, the Governor highlighted a tragic milestone in the nation’s war against COVID-19.

“This country has now lost more than 500,000 Americans to the coronavirus. It is an almost unimaginable loss. While we have good news about the direction things are going, we’re going to emerge from this with a lot of scars inside and out,” said Beshear. “Let’s all remember that we’ve got to love one another and be patient with one another through that. While I hope that we are months away from the end of this virus, it’s going to take a little longer to process our collective grief.”

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

New cases today: 530
New deaths today: 13
Positivity rate: 6.6%
Total deaths: 4,460
Currently hospitalized: 870
Currently in ICU: 243
Currently on ventilator: 119

Top counties with the most positive cases are: Jefferson, Fayette, Oldham, Campbell and Kenton. Each county reported at least 20 new cases. Jefferson County reported 95.

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

Virginia Moore Access Award
First Lady Beshear also announced a special recognition for Team Kentucky’s primary American Sign Language interpreter, Virginia Moore, who is executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

“Our very own Virginia Moore has been honored for demonstrating her dedication to advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing community in Kentucky,” said First Lady Beshear. “The award, properly named the Virginia Moore Access Award, is presented by the Kentucky Educators for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing here in Kentucky.”

Memorial
“Today, we share the loss of Gladys Bass, who passed away from COVID-19 on Feb. 10 at the age of 94. Her death came just eight weeks after her soulmate and husband of 74 years, Lewis ‘Sonny’ Bass, passed away from the virus,” said Beshear. “His loss left her heartbroken.

“Gladys was born in Lexington and was the youngest of eight children. She attended the University of Kentucky before meeting Sonny in Cincinnati. It was love at first sight, and they decided to build a beautiful life together.

“She effortlessly managed a busy household while encouraging Sonny throughout his many endeavors in life. When Sonny and his partners started Heritage House Nursing Home in 1961, the predecessor of Humana, you could find Gladys mopping floors, vacuuming or working the front desk to help get their first nursing home open.

“Gladys was the sweetest, most caring and loving woman, the matriarch that kept the foundation of the Bass family strong. Her friends and family always knew how much they were loved.

“Gladys’ loving spirit, beautiful smile and unending patience blessed this world for 94 years, and we are all better for it. She taught her family to love unconditionally, live life to the fullest and eat a piece of chocolate at every meal. We will mask up for Gladys, for Sonny and for every beloved Kentuckian lost to this horrible 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.