FRANKFORT, Ky. — CORRECTION: A previous version of this story inaccurately stated that people eligible under 1C are able to schedule appointments. WCPO regrets the error.
A regional COVID-19 vaccination site is coming to the Northern Kentucky Convention Center next week, and local health departments will soon receive a more stable supply of vaccine doses, Kentucky officials announced Thursday.
The Kroger Health site at 1 W. Rivercenter Blvd. in Covington will run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays starting Feb. 11. Officials hope to administer 2,000 doses per week.
You must have an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and you can schedule online now at www.kroger.com/covidvaccine or at www.kycovid19.ky.gov, or by phone at (866) 211-5320. You will also be able to schedule a second booster dose appointment at the same location, Gov. Andy Beshear said.
To learn if you're eligible to receive a vaccine now, visit vaccine.ky.gov or call Kentucky's vaccine hotline, (855) 598-2246, active 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Kentucky will run six vaccine hubs: two in Paducah and one in Murray, Glasgow and Danville. Another Kroger vaccine hub is running now in Lexington, and one in Bowling Green is coming next week.
The regional hubs focus on vaccinating people 70 and older in phase 1B.
Starting next week through the week of Feb. 22, NKY Health and all Kentucky health departments will be allocated a "stable supply of vaccine," according to Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.
Each department will receive doses equivalent to 1% of the population served, with a minimum of 100 doses allocated per county. Second doses will ship to those county health departments four weeks later. Officials said 90% of doses must be administered within the week, given to Kentuckians 70 and older.
Stack said Kentucky will also receive approximately 13,000 doses from the federal government for approximately 80 to 100 Walgreens stores and up to 50 local pharmacies, adding to the previous state and long-term care allocations.
Since vaccines arrived in Kentucky in December, more than 490,000 Kentuckians have received at least one vaccine dose, roughly 10% of the state population. Without counting Kentucky children, since there is no approved vaccine for children under 16, that figure is even higher, Stack said. Roughly 150,000 people over age 70 have received a first dose, Stack said, and there are about 350,000 Kentuckians 70 and older still waiting on a first COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Still, Stack and Beshear said supply remains an issue in the race to vaccinate Kentuckians.
"Our goal is to be able to far exceed what we think we can do today, which is about 250,000 vaccines a week, to get that number significantly up to where if they gave us enough vaccine for our entire population, our hope is that we could do it in matters of weeks," Beshear said.
When could Ky. classrooms reopen?
As Kentucky expects to complete first COVID-19 vaccine doses for K-12 educators and staff this week, Gov. Andy Beshear said the state is looking at plans to bring more students back to classrooms starting March 1.
"We are on track to become the fastest state to vaccinate our teachers," the governor said, "and that means there is going to be an expectation and encouragement to get our classrooms open in some form based on the conditions in the community and the fiscal plan of our schools."
Based on CDC guidance, Kentucky would recommend density control, masking, proper ventilation and community mitigation in schools and for districts, Beshear said. Most Kentucky school districts are already in a hybrid learning model and taking similar precautions. The state would also recommend an all-virtual option for families who choose it.
“Watching our educators get the vaccines, every one of them said, 'This is gonna help me get back in the classroom with the students,' and we’re gonna work on making that happen," Beshear said.
Details on the Kentucky Department of Education's plan to open more classrooms are expected next week.
A group of parents, including some in Boone County, have sued several public school districts to return students to classrooms.
COVID-19 in Kentucky
Beshear reported 2,500 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the lowest Thursday total in the last four weeks and potentially marking the fourth straight week of decline since the pandemic began.
The governor also announced 58 virus-related deaths, including five men, ages 62, 67, 70, 72 and 74, from Boone County, a 74-year-old woman from Gallatin County, and a 97-year-old woman and four men, ages 68, 69, 85 and 97, from Kenton County.
Since March, 372,012 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 3,921 have died of the virus. The state's test positivity rate has fallen to 8.37%.
Hospitalizations remained stable Thursday: 1,340 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, with 368 people in intensive care units and 171 on ventilators. Kentucky's coronavirus fatality rate has risen slightly to 1.04%.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 4,003 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 30,499 people have recovered from the virus as of Thursday. Since the pandemic began, 231 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: