A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

St. Elizabeth Healthcare gets vaccine for front-line staff; Beshear reports 2,946 new cases, 15 deaths

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that seven more Kentucky hospitals — including St. Elizabeth Healthcare Edgewood — received shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and that the administration of thousands of vaccines have started.

“The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are absolute gamechangers with 94-95% effectiveness and, it appears, minimal side effects,” Gov. Beshear said. “It gives us a view and a vision and a certainty of victory against this virus. We’ve just got to stay vigilant between now and when everybody can get it.

“These front-line heroes know that we’ve got their back. They fought for us every single day. We value their safety and we need their help getting through these next couple of months.”

Other facilities receiving vaccine deliveries include Baptist Health in Corbin, Louisville and Madisonville; Norton Hospital in Louisville; UK HealthCare in Lexington; and Pikeville Medical Center.

Vaccines start at St. Elizabeth

St. Elizabeth CEO Garren Colvin noted, “St. Elizabeth Healthcare is honored to be among the first health care organizations in the commonwealth to receive the COVID-19 vaccine allocations. Being able to provide an additional layer of defense to our front-line associates and physicians who, in their line of work, have the most risk of exposure to COVID-19 patients is critical. This is a landmark moment in health care history, and we are grateful to help lead these vital efforts for the greater health of our community.”

“Though the process is a significant logistical challenge, the Governor, Dr. Stack, and staff have made it as seamless as possible,” said Pikeville Medical Center CEO Donovan Blackburn. “As the largest regional hospital in Eastern Kentucky, we fully understand the need to protect our health care infrastructure by vaccinating our dedicated staff. They have stood on the front line during these difficult, unprecedented times. The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is a huge step in dismantling the pandemic.”

“After 10 months of being on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited for the good news that a vaccine is now available and that we can offer it to some of our health care workers at UK HealthCare,” said Dr. Mark Newman, UK executive vice president for health affairs. “We will be providing the first vaccinations to our front-line workers, employees who have direct patient care primarily for COVID-19 patients or under investigation for COVID-19. While we know that we have a long way to go in ending this pandemic, we are grateful to be part of this momentous first step.”

Case Information

The beginning of the end of the pandemic

Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

• New cases today: 2,946
• New deaths today: 15
• Positivity rate: 8.53%
• Total deaths: 2,239
• Currently hospitalized: 1,788
• Currently in ICU: 438
• Currently on ventilator: 246

Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Warren, Daviess and Madison. Each of these counties reported 100 or more new cases; Jefferson County alone reported 418.

Those reported lost to the virus today include a 68-year-old man from Boyd County; a 62-year-old woman from Caldwell County; a 77-year-old and 80-year old man from Daviess County; an 88-year-old woman from Graves County; a 77-year-old man from Hardin County; five men from Jefferson County, ages, 61, 64, 78, 83 and 92; a 90-year-old man from McCracken County; and three women from Ohio County, ages 87, and two, both of whom were 91.

A great day at St. E.

Federal coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx was in Kentucky today, meeting with Gov. Beshear, Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack and Kentucky General Assembly leaders.

The Governor thanked Dr. Birx for the visit and for applauding the state’s proactive measures that helped to slow the spread of the virus. The Governor noted that Kentucky has fared better than many other states.

Dr. Stack said the pandemic’s third surge is rising more rapidly than seen in the previous surges. The current surge is also broader, involving more counties simultaneously. This surge is also lasting longer, nearly twice as long so far from initiation of rapid spread to plateau.

Further, the pattern of the rapid increase in case numbers and accompanying hospitalizations and fatalities are also being observed across the nation, beginning with the Northern Plains.

“As the weather cools and Americans gather indoors, we expect to see a rise in cases following indoor gatherings where masks were not worn,” Dr. Stack said.

The need for testing has not slipped in importance, Dr. Stack added. Asymptomatic, or silent transmission, is “a critical component of viral spread and must be identified through testing.”

He equated the importance of testing as on par with masking, physical distancing, and hand hygiene.

Ready for the vaccine.

Happy team members.

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