Beshear, Stack: Unvaccinated should wear masks; people in hospital, ICU climbing

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The state’s positivity rate has soared above 5% and the number of COVID cases continues to rise as the Delta variant takes hold in Kentucky as it has in many other states.

But the state still has a chance to avoid some of the near-crisis situations that have hit some other states if more people will get vaccinated, the unvaccinated will wear masks in some areas and the vaccinated will continue to be cautious, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack and Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

That comes as the number of hospitalizations and patients in ICU are starting to climb significantly.

“We have the most aggressive variant that we have seen to date in our battle against COVID. It’s a serious, even deadly, threat to unvaccinated Kentuckians,” said Beshear. “If more adults don’t get vaccinated, it’s not just adults who pay the price. It’s our kids who will. Many of them can’t get vaccinated yet, and they count on us to make good decisions and do the right thing.”

The governor and Dr. Stack encouraged unvaccinated Kentuckians and Kentuckians in jobs that require consistent contact with the public to take additional precautions, including:

  • All unvaccinated Kentuckians should wear masks indoors when not in their home;
  • Kentuckians at higher risk from COVID-19 due to pre-existing conditions should wear masks indoors when not in their home;
  • Vaccinated Kentuckians in jobs with significant public exposure should consider wearing a mask at work; and
  • All unvaccinated Kentuckians, when eligible, should be vaccinated immediately.

“Getting vaccinated is a choice,” said Dr. Stack. “We’ve said that all along. It’s your choice. It’s an incredibly important choice. It’s a choice that should you choose to get vaccinated, you protect yourself and also all the others who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated because the more of us who are vaccinated, the less the virus is able to spread, to infect people and to hurt people. If you choose not to get vaccinated, that is your choice as well, but it is a particularly dangerous choice.”

Dr. Stack discussed recent outbreaks that have occurred in other states, accelerated by the delta variant, including incidences in Illinois, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Missouri.

Summer camps in Illinois and Texas were associated with COVID-19 outbreaks, including cases of the delta variant, which also infected six vaccinated guests at an outdoor wedding in Texas.

Officials in Mississippi warned of a potential COVID-19 surge as seven children were hospitalized with severe cases of the virus. The Louisiana State Health Officer, Dr. Joseph Kanter, said that Louisiana is facing a statewide outbreak as the delta variant began spreading and as vaccination rates fell.

Hospitals in Missouri have been understaffed and under-resourced as the delta variant continues to infect more people.

Vaccines appear to be highly effective against the delta variant. However, hospitalizations have surged more than 30% in the past two weeks and more than 80% in Nevada, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Nationwide, 97% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations are among those who have not yet been vaccinated.

“The delta variant is so contagious it will infect most unvaccinated people,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “It is going to be the most serious virus they will get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital.”

“I want to point out that Dr. Gottlieb was the FDA commissioner under the last president. We have never brought politics in to what we do with COVID. We want to make sure we listen to experts that cross party or administration,” said Gov. Beshear.

The Governor said to date, 2,248,235 Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Sixty-one percent of Kentuckians 18 or older have been vaccinated, but only 51% of Kentuckians age 40 to 49, 46% of Kentuckians age 30-39 and 36% of Kentuckians age 18 to 29.

All Kentuckians can sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment near where they live or work at

Meanwhile, the governor reported the positivity rate is now 5.48%, more than three times what is was less that three weeks ago. The state reported 240 new cases, 56 of which were people 18 or younger.

According to the daily report, the state now has eight ‘red’ counties and 36 in the ‘orange’ category. The ‘red’ numbers are up from just five on Friday.

The state reported four new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing Kentucky’s total death toll since the pandemic to 7,301.

The state reported 337 people people hospitalized, up from 295 on Friday, 104 people in ICU, up from just 64 Friday, and 38 people were on a ventilator, up from 25 on Friday.

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