FRANKFORT, Ky. — Because COVID-19 cases and positivity rate have dipped in Kentucky for the last seven weeks, the state will raise capacity limits to 60% effective Friday.
Gov. Andy Beshear announced that capacity limits will rise to 60% for the following sectors:
- Bars and restaurants
- Fitness centers
- Salons, cosmetology services, barber shops and nail salons
- Houses of worship
- Funeral and memorial services
- Office-based businesses
- Government offices
- Movie theaters
- Indoor educational and cultural activities
- Massage therapy
- Bowling alleys
- Tanning salons
- Tattoo parlors
- Vehicle and vessel dealerships
- Indoor auctions
These businesses will still be required to enforce the statewide mask mandate and take other precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus. Beshear emphasized that businesses must still allow for six feet of distance between occupants to allow that boost in capacity.
“This is an initial step where we’ll watch and see to ensure we don’t see a corresponding increase in cases, or these dangerous variants changing what we've been seeing in our trends," Beshear said.
Starting March 15, Kentucky childcare centers will be allowed to return to regular group sizes, Beshear said, in line with Kentucky's vaccination schedule for childcare workers in phase 1B.
Vaccine phase 1C begins
COVID-19 vaccine sites can now begin giving shots to Kentuckians in phase 1C, which includes essential workers, people 60 or older and people 16 or older with high risk conditions. Find a list of conditions and essential fields here. Vaccinations will be prioritized by age.
Beshear said Kentucky will receive 36,500 doses of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine, with shots going into arms in the next roughly seven days. Doses are bound for local health departments and 130 local independent pharmacies, Beshear said.
To find out if you're eligible for a vaccine now, visit vaccine.ky.gov, or call Kentucky's vaccine hotline, (855) 598-2246 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Since December, Kentucky has administered more than 715,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, including 100,000 in the last six days. Beshear said Kentucky aims to double that figure by April.
COVID-19 cases decline for 7 straight weeks
For the last seven weeks, Kentucky has seen new COVID-19 cases decline by 72%, and its positivity rate has fallen from roughly 12% to under 5%.
The governor said this week's cases are still lower than cases dating back two weeks ago, when winter weather halted COVID-19 testing around much of the state. On Monday, Kentucky recorded 509 new cases, the lowest new case count since Sept. 28, as well as 15 new coronavirus deaths.
Since March, 405,126 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 4,652 have died of the virus. Kentucky will also conduct an audit on COVID-19 death numbers comparing death certificates to state databases.
"This audit that we are performing now is something we're starting to see in every state, I have seen at least five. It's the right thing to do. Everybody matters, and it's important that we count every soul that has been lost and knowing that there is a grieving family behind it," the governor said.
Hospitalizations continue to decline. Currently, 719 Kentuckians are hospitalized for COVID-19, with 180 people in intensive care units and 118 on ventilators. Kentucky's coronavirus fatality rate has risen to 1.14%.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 1,250 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 37,252 people have recovered from the virus as of Monday. Since the pandemic began, 264 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus. Track the spread on Kentucky's COVID-19 incidence rate map.
Watch a replay of the briefing below: