A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Governor reports 628 new cases, 5 deaths, variant cases in younger people; ‘We need to get vaccinated’

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear once again urged Kentuckians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, especially with the variants affecting younger people.

During a Thursday press briefing from the Capitol, he stated there are currently over 270 confirmed cases in the state of coronavirus variants, 250 of which are the B.1.1.7 or UK variant.

He issued a warning: “This is infecting younger people and younger Kentuckians. If you’re a Kentuckian 16 to 49, this is the group that is being infected by this variant. More people are getting sick in this group than ever before, so please don’t be casual with these numbers. We need you to get vaccinated.”

Flags on the Capitol lawn represent the more than 6000 lives lost to COVID (Photo by Tom Latek)

The governor noted that 1,696,530 Kentuckians have had at least one shot of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, so there just over 800,000 more needed to reach the 2.5 million mark. At that point, capacity and other restrictions currently in place will be lifted for businesses and venues with up to 1,000 people.

“With over a half-million first doses waiting to get in people’s arms,” he said, “You can go just about anywhere.”

There are currently well over 500 vaccination sites around the state, and Beshear said FEMA will soon establish two sites, where transportation to the sites will be available.

State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who ordered a pause in the use of the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six cases showed up of blood clotting among women of childbearing age, may soon act on whether the pause will continue.

“They are meeting Friday to review any new evidence that has been made available,” said Stack, “and are anticipated to make a decision on about whether or not to lift the pause on distribution and use of J&J in the United States.”

He added, “The European Medicines Agency has already lifted their restriction, and has started to ship J&J again in Europe.  I think most of us anticipate that will happen soon here in the United States.”

Unemployment was also discussed during the press briefing.

Many companies say they are having difficulty filling open positions, which they partially blame on the state dropping the work search requirement for people to receive unemployment insurance.

Amy Cubbage, Gov. Beshear’s General Counsel, said, “We are announcing that we are reinstating that, effective May 9. Our UI weeks run Sunday to Saturday, so regardless of when you request benefits that week, you will be asked if you have complied with the work search requirement.  You will be required to seek suitable full-time employment and report at least one attempt each week.”

She recommended all applicants keep a detailed record of job contacts, including the name of the business, job title, name and title of person talked to, date and method of contact. Those details will be required during bi-weekly benefit requests.

There were 628 new cases of COVID-19 reported to state public health officials on Thursday, which brings the pandemic total to 439,551.

Jefferson County reported 127 new cases, Fayette 52, Boone 24, and Warren 22. Kenton reported 11 and Campbell 1.

Five new deaths were reported Thursday, with one each in Boone, Jefferson, Kenton, Meade and Pike counties.

The ongoing audit of death certificates issued during last fall and winter turned up three more, with Campbell, Graves, and Marshall counties, having one apiece.

A total of 6,381 Kentuckians have now lost their lives due to the coronavirus.

The state’s positivity rate was 3.36% on Thursday, making it four straight days of declines.

The governor’s next scheduled live press briefing on COVID-19 Monday afternoon, but his office is expected to issue daily numbers throughout the weekend.

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