Beshear warns of dominant variant attacking young people

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear warned that Kentucky may be in another plateau when it comes to COVID-19 cases after weeks of declines, and that the dominant variant of the coronavirus is targeting the younger population.  


During a Monday press briefing from the Capitol, the governor said while Kentucky has leveled off in new cases, at least four other states are seeing increases, due to what has become known as the UK Variant since it was first identified in the United Kingdom.


“What we’re unfortunately seeing is that they are infecting more young people,” he said.  “Those young people are getting really sick, and hospitalizations for younger Americans are going up.  None of us want that, so what do we do?  Number one, until we win, continue to wear that mask and make sure you’re doing the right things.  Number two, get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”


He repeated the incentive he unveiled at the opening of the state’s largest vaccination clinic earlier Monday at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, that when 2.5 million Kentuckians have had at least their first shot, that he will remove capacity restrictions at restaurants, bars and other venues that can have up to 1,000 people on hand.


That goal is a little more than 900,000 doses away, and the Governor said the “Team Kentucky Vaccination Challenge” can be reached in less than six weeks.


State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack called the challenge a big deal.  “This is our exit strategy for COV ID-19.  These vaccines Are highly effective, they’ve been given to tens and tens of millions of people very safely.  They’ve been very well received, and have been shown to keep people from dying, from going into the intensive care unit, from getting severely ill.  They have been shown in real world circumstances to be very highly effective, even against the variants.”


Secretary of the Cabinet J. Michael Brown reported that the March outbreak at both the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville and the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex has seen a dramatic improvement over the past month, including a large drop in both inmate and staff cases. 


Vaccinating inmates with the one dose version has also gone at a fast clip.  “We delivered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to our institutions on April 5,” Brown stated.  “In that week we’ve gotten 6,602 inmates vaccinated.  That represents 68% of the total prison population.”


He said there is an incentive in the prisons, much like the Governor announced for the general population.  “Once we get to a truly substantial level of the inmate population vaccinated, I’m talking at least 80%, we’ll be able to start a program of having visitations beginning again in our institutions.  We’re talking over 80% of the inmate population vaccinated, to be visited by vaccinated individuals.”

Gov. Beshear said there were 270 new cases of the coronavirus reported to state public health officials on Monday.  “That is more than last week, but it’s less than the two preceding weeks before that.”


Only four counties had double-digit numbers of new cases: Jefferson 51, Harlan 31, Laurel 12, and Daviess 11.  That brings the pandemic number of positive cases to 433,352.


There were seven new deaths reported from local health departments on Monday, and none from the ongoing audit of death certificates starting last fall.  That raises the number of Kentuckians lost to COVID-19 to 6,257.


The latest victims ranged in age from 45 to 95.  Two were from Jefferson County, while Boone, Clay, Harlan, Kenton, and Laurel each had one.


A total of 380 Kentuckians were hospitalized due to the coronavirus on Monday.  Of them, 104 were in the ICU and 54 on a ventilator.  All represent increases from Sunday.


Kentucky’s positivity rate rose for the fourth straight day, and stood at 3.16%, based on a seven-day rolling average of cases versus tests.


To see the state’s full daily COVID-19 report, which includes such information as the red zone counties and red zone recommendations, testing locations, vaccine sites and availability, the weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky, executive orders, revised travel guidance from the CDC and other information on the state’s pandemic response, go to kycovid19.ky.gov.


The governor’s next scheduled press briefing on COVID-19 will be Thursday afternoon at 4, although his office is expected to release daily numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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