Beshear urges vaccinations as antibody treatments face shortage, many COVID numbers down

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – Gov. Andy Beshear said during the latest Team Kentucky Update that Kentucky administered more than 5,000 monoclonal antibody treatment courses last week, but the state will only receive 4,960 courses this week due to a national shortage. They will be allocated to 79 sites around Kentucky based on backorder requests, current inventory and previous week utilization.

“We will have at least one monoclonal antibody treatment provider in each of our Area Development Districts, but there’s not going to be enough anywhere,” said Gov. Beshear. “If you’re putting off a vaccine to have an infusion, let me tell you, an infusion is much more invasive, and there are not going to be enough of those anywhere in the commonwealth. Get that vaccine.”

The Governor said 8,750 COVID-19 cases and 88 COVID-19 deaths were reported in Kentucky since Friday. Three of the Kentuckians who died were in their early twenties.

“While we hope that our weekly case numbers are plateauing, we cannot sustain a plateau at this level with the number of people it would put in the hospital,” said Gov. Beshear. “On any given day, we’ve only got between 90 and 120 total open adult ICU beds in the state. And that’s with many outpatient and elective procedures canceled to allow more space in the hospital to be converted to ICU units. This cannot become business as usual.”

“This is like a war zone to us. We have staff members experience PTSD, just as a soldier would in the time of war,” said Sherrie Mays, MSN, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Corbin. “My heart breaks for my staff. I see them out there working every day. They put this hospital and the patients ahead of their families so that our patients can be taken care of.”

She added: “If you have the vaccine, your case is going to be milder. You can’t think that this is just the flu and you’re going to stay home and take care of it. It is COVID, and we have to address it early on.”

As of Monday’s report, 2,652,144 people have received at least one vaccine dose in Kentucky. Since Friday, 13,752 people received at least one vaccine dose.

From March 1 to Sept. 15, 87.1% of COVID-19 cases, 92.1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 84.6% of COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky have been among those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

The Governor reported that 59% of all Kentuckians, including those that are too young to be eligible, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose; 70% of Kentuckians 12 or older, or 70%, of all eligible Kentuckians, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose; and 72% of Kentucky adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

The Governor said Kentucky ranks third among neighboring states for both percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated and percentage who have received at least one dose.

The Governor said Pfizer and BioNTech announced today their vaccine has been shown to be safe and highly effective in young children ages 5 to 11. The companies plan to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of the month for authorization to administer the vaccine to children in this age group.

The weekend saw the start of a steady decline in new cases since Friday.

Sept. 18, Cases: 3,811
Sept. 18, Deaths: 48
Sept. 19, Cases: 2,685
Sept. 19, Deaths: 23

In its daily update, the state reported 2,075 new COVID cases with 526 of those in people 18 and under. The new cases brought the state total to 658,231 since the start of the pandemic.

The state also reported 17 new COVID-related deaths. The state’s total lost to COVID is now at 8,339 since March 2020.

The positivity rate is still decreasing, with Monday’s set at 12.18% compared to Friday’s 12.88%, Thursday’s 13.00%, Wednesday’s 13.02%, 13.45% Tuesday and 13.7% on last Monday.
Hospitalizations also went down to 2,254 people compared to 2,426 on Friday, 2,453 on Thursday, 2,493 people in the hospital on Wednesday, 2,514 Tuesday and 2,446 on last Monday.
The number of those in intensive care went back up to 654. Friday’s report showed 647, Thursday’s 667, 648 people on Wednesday, 666 on Tuesday and 646 were reported last Monday.
Patients on ventilators came down to 452 compared to Friday’s 463, 448 on Thursday, 436 on Wednesday, 428 Tuesday and 411 on last Monday.

The Governor said Kentucky will receive an allocation of BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 tests.

“We are going to be using these on transient and difficult to track populations, such as homeless shelters, jails, prisons and other places where you need a quick response to know whether or not to mix someone with the rest of the population,” said Gov. Beshear. “If we have extras, universities are interested, and we will try to make those available.”

Gov. Beshear also shared Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) guidance to K-12 schools for preventing the spread of COVID-19 among students, educators and school staff.

Those include instituting multiple, layered prevention strategies; requiring universal masking; encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations among all eligible Kentuckians 12 and older; ensuring physical distancing as much as possible; improving facility ventilation; making sure sick students and staff stay home; making COVID-19 testing available and quarantining unvaccinated individuals after exposures; and collaborating with local health departments.

KDPH has contracted with 19 laboratory service providers to offer COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools in Kentucky at no cost. This service is available to schools in all Kentucky counties, though it is the responsibility of the school or district leadership to set up a testing program for their school community.

The Governor said an FDA committee met Sept. 17 and voted unanimously that benefits outweigh risks of a Pfizer-BioNTech booster for individuals 65 and older and individuals at high risk of severe COVID-19.

The FDA also informally considered people in high-risk professions (e.g. health care) for booster eligibility. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised states to not implement booster programs until the FDA takes regulatory action and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices committee meets Sept. 22-23 to make recommendations. There is no current timeline on guidance for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters.

Additionally, Gov. Beshear said upon the recommendation of the Kentucky State Police and federal security partners, the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s Department for Facilities and Support Services will be seeking a request for quotes for the installation of bollards on the grounds of the Kentucky State Capitol, making the area between the floral clock and the Capitol rose garden accessible only to pedestrian traffic. The remainder of Capital Avenue will continue to be open to vehicular traffic.

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