Johnson & Johnson vaccines arriving, case numbers remain down

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday the first Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses will be arriving in the state this week and delivered to independent pharmacies.

“The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot, highly effective vaccine adds to the growing weekly supply available to Kentucky that has risen in just over a month from around 57,000 to over 100,000 first doses and growing,” said Beshear.

“Independent pharmacies have been preparing for months and are eager to play a part in putting this pandemic to an end. Your independent pharmacies are always there to serve and provide for the communities we work in, live in, and go to church in,” said David Figg, chief executive officer of Rice’s Pharmacy in Ohio County. “This vaccine in our pharmacies is another way to ensure access in all corners of the state, even those that may struggle with transportation. We are committed to making sure every dose is utilized, and this Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a great third vaccine in our arsenal. We will not let the commonwealth down.”

As of 4 p.m. Monday, March 1, Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

New cases today: 509
New deaths today: 15, all in Eastern Kentucky
Positivity rate: 4.84%
Total deaths: 4,652
Currently hospitalized: 719
Currently in ICU: 180
Currently on ventilator: 82

Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Boone, Kenton, Laurel and McCracken. Each county reported at least 20 new cases. Jefferson County reported 95.

The list of those reported lost to the virus includes two in Laurel, one in Knott, six in Letcher, three in Perry and three in Whitley.

The Governor reminded Kentuckians that starting Monday, individuals in Phase 1C can sign up for appointments at regional vaccination centers. To learn more about Kentucky’s 410 vaccination sites, visit vaccine.ky.gov or kycovid19.ky.gov/ky-covid-vaccine.

“This week, we have already set a record by vaccinating more than 100,000 Kentuckians in a single week,” said Beshear. “As of today, we have vaccinated just under 700,000 Kentuckians – 16% of our total population and over 20% of our eligible population.”

Cabinet for Health and Family Services inspector general Adam Mather said all first doses have been given in the federal long-term care program for residents, staff and contract employees who wished to receive the vaccine. The program is moving toward its maintenance phase.

“Over the course of this week, institutional pharmacies that have enrolled in both the state and federal systems will receive vaccines to administer at long-term care facilities. We are working to enroll the remaining pharmacies and they will be added to the program,” said Mather. “This ensures that new residents, new staff, and reluctant residents and staff will be able to be vaccinated.”

The governor reminded Kentuckians that public transit agencies across the commonwealth are offering free or reduced-cost transportation to and from vaccine appointments.

These services are already operating in over 90 counties, covering 75% of all counties across Kentucky. Kentuckians can find transportation services near them by heading to kycovid19.ky.gov for a full list of participating public transit agencies and their phone numbers. Or, call the Kentucky COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline, 855-598-2246.

The governor reminded Kentuckians to apply to the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund for assistance with housing and utility costs. The program is open to individuals in 118 counties (Jefferson and Fayette counties have their own parallel assistance programs). To learn more about eligibility and how to apply, visit teamkyhherf.ky.gov.

The governor also announced the state will conduct an audit to ensure every Kentuckian lost to COVID-19 is counted.

Neighboring states like Ohio and Indiana have engaged in audits using death certificates and matching them to reported deaths. Kentucky performed this audit in real time until cases increased in November.

“It will likely take a decade to fully understand and calculate the loss of life and the long-term health impacts of this pandemic,” said Gov. Beshear. “But I am committed to honoring all of those lost by making sure each is counted. We can have no unknown loss and no unknown soldiers.”

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