FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced 34 COVID-19-related deaths Thursday, the third-highest single day of reported deaths following the highest number of deaths on Wednesday and the second-highest on Tuesday.
Kentucky has reported 2,014 coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began. As cases grow, Kentucky's current fatality rate, the proportion of people who die out of people who test positive for the virus, is down to 1.04% from 1.37% on Nov. 1.
The governor also announced 3,895 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the second-highest day for new cases adding to the 190,601 total positive COVID-19 cases reported since March.
Kentucky's seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate again hit a record-high 10.07% on Thursday, which Beshear said indicates that more people who get tested are seeing a positive result.
“We’re getting pretty close to qualifying for our own travel advisory. That should tell you where we are and how concerning it is out there,” Beshear said.
Hospitalizations hit another record high as well, with 1,810 Kentuckians currently hospitalized for COVID-19, 415 people in intensive care units and 240 on ventilators on Thursday. Beshear said that the state is concerned that as the number of coronavirus patients grows, there will be fewer doctors, nurses and medical staff to treat those patients.
Beshear said the state and the White House COVID-19 task force expect to see higher coronavirus case numbers coming this week as a result of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Vaccines coming to Kentucky within weeks
On Thursday, the governor announced that St. Elizabeth Healthcare Edgewood will be among the first 11 hospitals to receive 975 doses of an initial COVID-19 vaccine shipment for their workers.
Earlier this week, Beshear announced that Kentucky is finalizing its plan to distribute an initial shipment of vaccines to residents and staff in long-term care facilities as well as frontline healthcare workers.
The federal government is expected to deliver 38,025 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Kentucky as early as Dec. 15. Moderna is expected to ship an additional 76,700 doses of their COVID-19 vaccines roughly two weeks after Pfizer's vaccine ships.
Each company's vaccine requires a second "booster" dose, and those second doses will be delivered about three weeks after the initial shipments.
Beshear said Kentucky will submit its draft vaccine distribution plan to the federal government this week.
More Ky. COVID-19 numbers
Kentucky has administered more than 2.9 million COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began and more than 28,755 people have reportedly recovered from coronavirus.
All but six Kentucky counties have moved into the "red" on the state's COVID-19 incidence rate map, which indicates "critical" spread in those areas of 25 or more cases per 100,000 people.
Currently, sweeping pandemic restrictions are in effect for restaurants and bars, venues, gyms and home gatherings through Dec. 13 at 11:59 p.m. Middle schools and high schools will remain in remote learning until Jan. 4, but elementary schools can reopen Monday if their county is no longer in the red zone.
“Action’s tough -- inaction’s deadly. So if everybody will do their part up to the (Dec. 14) and do their part after the 14th, and everything else we have in place, we can save lives,” Beshear said.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 3,128 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, with 11,984 people who have recovered from the virus on Thursday. Since the pandemic began, 124 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Restaurant, utility relief funds
Applications are now open for Kentucky's $40 million relief fund for bars and restaurants closed for indoor service.
Each eligible restaurant or bar could receive a grant up to $10,000, with a maximum of $20,000 available to local chains with more than one location. So far, more than 3,420 applications have been submitted for a $32.5 million share of the fund. $4.2 million has already been disbursed. Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received.
To apply for the Kentucky Food and Beverage Relief Fund, click here.
Additionally, Beshear said the state's Utility Relief Fund still has roughly $11 million available to help Kentuckians struggling to pay utility bills.
Eligible applicants can receive a one-time grant of $500 for water or wastewater bills, or $400 for gas and electric bills.
Where to get tested for free in NKY
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics offer free, appointment-only drive-thru testing at 25 Atlantic Ave in Erlanger, the former Toyota HQ building off Mineola Pike.
The site is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You will be able to collect your own sample without leaving your vehicle and receive results within three to five days.
Additionally, appointment-only drive-up testing is available through St. E at 7200 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria. The free testing site is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: