FRANKFORT, Ky. — The federal government is looking to send 57% more COVID-19 vaccine doses to Kentucky each week.
On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the federal government has approved a 29% increase in Kentucky's weekly dose supply, which equals a 57% total boost in the state's weekly vaccine supply since January.
Kentucky previously received about 53,800 doses per week; The state is now set to receive close to 87,800 doses staring next week. The federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination has also doubled from 13,000 to 26,000 doses for Kentucky pharmacies.
On Monday, Beshear said childcare workers can now begin signing up for COVID-19 vaccines, alongside people age 70 and older, first responders and K-12 school staff in phase 1B. They can sign up anywhere in the commonwealth currently offering vaccinations.
"We are going to specifically ask our local health departments to focus on individuals over 70, vulnerable populations and childcare workers, and that's even if we move into 1C at other places in the future," Beshear said.
Since December, nearly 556,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Kentucky.
With more winter weather forecasted this week, Beshear said Kroger Health's vaccine hub at Covington's NKY Convention Center will still be open Thursday.
"We're going to do everything in our power to keep our regional sites open these next days. We know we've already had to reschedule too many appointments," the governor said.
COVID-19 declines in Kentucky
Beshear reported 1,255 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest Tuesday case count in weeks, as well as 27 virus-related deaths. That report included two men from Boone County, ages 54 and 65, and three women from Kenton County, ages 76, 83, and 90.
As of Monday, there are also four confirmed cases of a more contagious UK variant of COVID-19 in Kentucky, four in Northern Kentucky and one in Jefferson County. The first two cases, both out of Kenton County, were first reported Jan. 26.
The governor previously announced that new COVID-19 cases and test positivity have declined for five straight weeks. Without giving specifics Tuesday, Beshear said also said some capacity restrictions could be lifted if that trend continues through six weeks.
"What we will probably look at doing is increasing capacity that's allowed by some amount. We probably won't see a huge jump, but it may be meaningful in some circumstances," Beshear said.
Since March, 390,762 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 4,318 have died of the virus. The state's test positivity rate has fallen to 6.58%, the lowest rate since November.
Hospitalizations have been on the decline for several weeks. Currently, 935 Kentuckians are hospitalized for COVID-19, with 272 people in intensive care units and 133 on ventilators. As a result, hospital capacity has remained stable statewide, Beshear said. Kentucky's coronavirus fatality rate has risen to 1.10%.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 2,378 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 34,852 people have recovered from the virus as of Tuesday. Since the pandemic began, 246 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Rent, utility relief applications now open
Kentucky tenants struggling due to the financial toll of the pandemic can now apply for rent or utility bill assistance back to April 2020.
They can also apply for three months of future payments. If approved, lump sum, direct payments will be made to landlords and utility providers.
Kentucky's previous eviction relief fund helped 4,135 households financially affected by the pandemic pay rent and utilities, using $15 million in CARES Act funds. More than 5,200 people have already begun applications for the new $264 million program Tuesday.
Both landlords and tenants should apply to be accepted. To see if you qualify and to apply, visit teamkyhherf.ky.gov.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: