Calling it his “primary mission,” Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday defended the state’s efforts to administer the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, Beshear said.
To date, only 66,582 initial doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the state, Beshear said Tuesday, but he noted an increase of roughly 6,000 vaccines administered from the previous day’s total.
That’s out of roughly 200,000 Pfizer or Moderna doses Kentucky was supposed to receive by Dec. 31. The state is still anticipating the last of those initial vaccine doses, which are reserved mainly for long-term care facility residents and staff and health care personnel.
“It’s picking up, and that’s good news. Obviously, it has to pick up more,” Beshear said.
Another 53,000 or so doses are expected to arrive next week, he said.
“Right now, we’re only receiving the information about how many doses we’ll even have a week in advance,” Beshear said.
There are also problems with the federal-state coordination in getting the vaccine out for widespread use, Beshear said. CVS and Walgreens are assisting with disbursing vaccines among the state’s long-term care population, which make up roughly 66% of the state’s virus deaths.
However, “larger regional sites” will need to be set up in every area of the state, Beshear said.
“We’re going to ensure that, within a certain drive – no matter where you are in Kentucky – there’s going to be a facility, a drive-through, a hospital or other provider, a local health department that has the capacity and the IT infrastructure that’s going to help get you through,” Beshear said.
Beshear said one of the major factors hamstringing the state’s ability to roll out vaccines is the federal government’s coordination with the states.
“The federal government didn’t provide us funding to build infrastructure to provide this vaccine to people until after this vaccine starting rolling out,” Beshear said. “In any organized way we would have done this, the federal government would have provided us with dollars to go out and build our infrastructure a month before we got the vaccine or they would have done it themselves.”
Beshear on Tuesday reported 1,781 new coronavirus cases, the lowest total for that day reported in weeks. Still, the positivity rate in Kentucky ticked up slightly to 11.4% Tuesday.
There were 23 additional virus deaths reported on Tuesday.
Beshear cautioned that case updates might be skewed given the holidays and lab closures.
Locally, the Barren River District Health Department has announced a total of 19,703 cases since the pandemic started, 16,684 of which have recovered. The department’s eight-county region currently has 221 deaths reported from COVID-19.
The breakdown of recovered/deaths/total cases by county is Barren: 2,345, 35, 2,651; Butler: 705, 16, 860; Edmonson: 499, 13, 593; Hart: 1,058, 9, 1,264; Logan: 1,510, 39, 1,797; Metcalfe: 516, 10, 601; Simpson: 1,053, 12, 1,247; and Warren: 8,998 87, 10,690.
The Allen County Health Department, which is not affiliated with the Barren River health department, announced 32 new coronavirus cases Tuesday.
Allen County has had 1,247 cases reported since the start of the pandemic. Currently, 1,080 cases have fully recovered and are off quarantine with 149 active cases in quarantine at this time either at home or hospitalized, and 18 deaths.
Beshear spoke as lawmakers returned to Frankfort on Tuesday for the start of the legislative session.
Not far from the Governor’s Mansion, a sign in all caps reading “MAKE HANGING TRAITORS GREAT AGAIN” was placed outside the state Capitol. The sign’s reverse side read “Impeach Andy,” according to the Courier-Journal in Louisville.
Reacting to that news, Beshear said several signs were placed as part of a rally that drew about a dozen attendees, adding “I’m just not intimidated by yard signs.”
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.