Team Kentucky update discusses economic developments, infrastructure bill, COVID

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – On Thursday during his weekly Team Kentucky update, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 1,755 new jobs and $822.7 million in investment, as the commonwealth’s record-setting economic momentum continues to grow.

“I’d like to thank all of you for your belief in Team Kentucky and for all of the families that are going to be impacted so positively,” said Gov. Beshear. “We like big numbers, but what they mean is more Kentucky families can put food on the table and provide more opportunities for their kids.”

Economic announcements included expansions for GE Appliances, ARGI Financial Group LLC (click here), Tyson Foods (click here) and Pitman Creek Wholesale LLC (click here).

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said that earlier this week, Gov. Beshear joined local, state and federal officials along with leaders from Novelis for the grand opening of the company’s $300 million-plus automotive aluminum finishing operation, which employs over 150 people including 100 Kentuckians. To learn more, see the full release.

Lt. Gov. Coleman also said that last week, Gov. Beshear took part in the groundbreaking of a new distribution center and sales office for Republic National Distributing Co., a distributor of premium wine and spirits, a relocation and expansion project that will create 30 full-time jobs with a $50 million investment. To learn more, see the full release.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Impacts in Kentucky
Gov. Beshear expressed his support for the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being debated in Washington, D.C.

“Historic investments in our roads and bridges, rail, transit, ports, airports, the electric grid, clean water and high-speed internet will be game-changing for Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “This type of investment will create jobs and continue our economic development momentum.”

In addition to American Rescue Plan Act funding, under the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Kentucky would receive:

  • More than $4.7 billion over five years to repair roads and bridges and create high-quality, well-paying jobs for Kentucky families;

  • $647 million to improve water infrastructure;

  • $100 million to provide high-speed internet coverage across the state, and 1.4 million Kentuckians (33%) will also be eligible to apply for the “Affordable Connectivity Fund” to expand access to high-speed, affordable internet;

  • $391 million over five years in public transportation funding;

  • $204 million over five years to improve airports;

  • $69 million to expand the state’s electric vehicle charging network;

  • $19 million to protect against wildfires;

  • $18 million to protect against cyberattacks; and

  • Benefits from a $3.5 billion national investment in weatherization, which will reduce energy costs for families and small businesses nationwide.

“We have an economy on fire, and if we have extra money to improve our infrastructure—from roads, to bridges, to broadband—there is absolutely no stopping us,” said Gov. Beshear.

The Governor added that the state is already partnering with Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation to build the nation’s largest electrical vehicle battery manufacturing plants at the Glendale megasite and that more electrical vehicle infrastructure is greatly needed because the future of the automotive industry is electric.

Kentucky Awarded $1 Million Federal Grant to Help Expand High-Speed Internet
Earlier this week, Gov. Beshear and Lt. Gov. Coleman announced that Kentucky has been awarded a $1 million federal grant to help expand high-speed internet across the commonwealth. To learn more, see the full release.

Cumberland Valley Electric as New Partner in High-Speed Internet Expansion
Earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Coleman joined local leaders and Shaping Our Appalachian Region to celebrate a $50,000 grant dedicated to welcoming Kentucky’s electric co-ops into the state’s last mile of high-speed internet expansion efforts. The funding is through an Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant, which provides federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in the coal industry. Cumberland Valley Electric is the first electric cooperative in Eastern Kentucky to take a public step forward into the high-speed internet arena. To learn more, see the full release.

COVID-19 Update
As he discussed Monday and in previous press conferences, today, Gov. Beshear said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed state leaders that some of the COVID-19 vaccine data for Kentucky has been counted twice in the federal Tiberius vaccine database.

This occurred because data from one pharmacy chain (Kroger) was reported to the federal Tiberius database both through the Kentucky immunization registry (KYIR) and directly to the CDC through the Federal Pharmacy Vaccine Program.

“This was not intentional by anyone. They were submitting it in two ways and assumed there would be a de-duplication algorithm in the federal database. Kroger has been a great partner to us in vaccinations and testing and we do not blame anyone for this,” said Gov. Beshear.

The Governor noted that similar federal data instances, with other vaccine providers, has occurred in at least two other states. State officials have confirmed that this duplicate reporting only occurred with one pharmacy chain in Kentucky.

The CDC has shared a summary of the vaccine doses that will be de-duplicated from the federal Tiberius database this week. An estimated 431,100 total vaccine doses will be removed from the federal database for Kentucky. An estimated 252,500 of these are first doses, so this will lower the total number of unique Kentuckians vaccinated from approximately 2.78 million to 2.53 million.

Therefore, the percentage of Kentuckians vaccinated with at least one dose is going to decrease to around 56% or 57% on the CDC and Kentucky Department for Public Health websites.

The percentage of Kentuckians vaccinated in each age group will be adjusted downward approximately 5% to 7.5% for each of the age groups.

The adjustment to the percent vaccinated will be large in some counties – as much as 20%. Some counties will not have any change. This variation is related to how many persons were vaccinated by Kroger pharmacies.

The Governor said he expects the duplicate record deletions to occur this Thursday night, Oct. 28, and the adjustments in the data will be seen within a few days. There will be no changes to data within KYIR.

During the week ending Oct. 24, the average COVID-19 test positivity rate decreased to 5.90% and the total number of cases reported decreased to 9,749.

From March 1 to Oct. 27, 2021, 84.1% of COVID-19 cases, 84.2% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 85.0% of COVID-19 deaths have been among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Kentuckians.

On Monday, the Governor discussed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel’s recommendation for regulators to authorize the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

If the FDA follows the panel’s recommendation, the CDC will then make the final decision.

As the Governor mentioned on Monday, the formulation of the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is different from those for ages 12 and older. Because of this, they will be stored differently using color coding. Purple will be the color of the vial cap for the vaccine used for those ages 12 and older; orange will be the color vial cap for the vaccine used for those ages 5 to 11.

The CDC recently approved the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) booster shots to increase protection against COVID-19.

Over time, recipients’ immune response from the vaccine slowly decreases. Receiving a booster will increase protection against severe COVID-19 cases and significantly decrease chances of hospitalization.

If it has been over six months since a Kentuckian received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and he or she has underlying health conditions, a high-exposure job or is 65 and older, a booster shot is needed.

Two months after receiving the J&J vaccine, Kentuckians should get a booster – everyone is eligible, regardless of underlying conditions, work environment or age.

“We recommend acting with urgency, as we believe there are more breakthrough cases with the J&J vaccine and we want to increase your protection against this virus,” said Gov. Beshear. “Remember, even if you got the J&J vaccine to start with, you may choose the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine boosters to increase your immunity.”

To learn more about booster eligibility, visit kycovid19.ky.gov.

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