FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that several Kentucky long-term care facilities have begun administering Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.
Beshear emphasized the importance of vaccinating residents and staff in long-term care facilities, as resident deaths due to COVID-19 make up roughly 66% of statewide deaths.
Kentucky has also received authorization to receive Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, after it was given the green light by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the weekend.
By the end of December, Kentucky expects to receive roughly 175,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines. By Wednesday of this week, every Kentucky acute-care hospital will have at least some vaccines to give to its healthcare staff, Beshear said.
Dr. Ashley Montogmery-Yates, medical director of Good Samaritan Hospital ICU at UK Hospital, joined Beshear at his remote daily briefing and said workers in her COVID-19 unit are excited to get the vaccine.
“We see this as an incredibly safe and an incredibly well-thought-out vaccine that has technology that is really going to just monumentally alter the way we move forward with vaccines,” Montgomery-Yates said.
More than 7,300 doses have already been administered, and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said Kentucky is seeing "very good tolerance for the vaccines," aside from some common side effects like soreness at the vaccine location, body aches and low-grade fever.
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second "booster" dose taken in the weeks after the initial dose, and the federal government plans to ship these second doses shortly after the initial vaccines are received, Beshear said.
After long-term care residents and healthcare workers, Kentucky plans to vaccinate educators and school staff. Plans to potentially distribute doses to those individuals in February are forthcoming.
Several Kentucky leaders will receive the vaccine Tuesday morning in the capitol rotunda, including Governor Beshear, first lady Britainy Beshear, Dr. Stack, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton, Senate President Robert Stivers, Speaker of the House David Osborne and Executive Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown.
For questions on COVID-19 vaccines and their distribution, call Kentucky's 24-hour hotline at (800) 722-5725 or visit Kentucky's vaccine webpage.
Kentucky COVID-19 numbers
Beshear announced 1,988 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 virus-related deaths on Monday. Since March, 244,297 COVID-19 cases and 2,412 virus-related deaths have been reported statewide.
The governor noted that positive cases continue to fall, but exponential growth seen in November and early December is bringing more deaths.
"Remember, deaths lag the increase in cases by two to three weeks," Beshear said.
Stack said with Christmas and New Year’s upon us, Kentuckians have the power to prevent another surge of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations. He asked Kentuckians to limit gatherings to eight people from two households, wear masks and wash their hands.
“Ball’s in your court, folks. We gotta get through the next two weeks and not cause a horrible, self-inflicted wound,” Stack said.
Hospitalizations fell slightly on Monday, with 1,580 Kentuckians currently hospitalized for COVID-19, 411 people in intensive care units and 231 on ventilators.
Kentucky's COVID-19 test positivity rate dipped to 8.64% on Monday. Kentucky's fatality rate, the proportion of people who die out of people who test positive for the virus, is down to 0.99% from 1.16% this time last month.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 2,963 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 17,789 people have recovered from the virus as of Monday. Since the pandemic began, 162 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Northern Kentucky hospital bed capacity also fell slightly this week, with 69.2% inpatient bed capacity and 49.7% ICU bed capacity.
Where to get tested for free in NKY
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.