FRANKFORT, Ky. — More than 221,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far in Kentucky, and Gov. Andy Beshear said the state is now giving vaccine doses faster than the federal government can supply them.
"We have increased every single week our ability to provide vaccinations and get it into people's arms really quickly," Beshear said at his coronavirus briefing Tuesday.
The governor said he has requested the federal government double Kentucky's allotment of COVID-19 vaccine up from the roughly 50,000 it is slated to receive next week. For comparison, Kentucky administered about 80,000 vaccinations last week.
New types of COVID-19 vaccines, other than Pfizer's and Moderna's, are moving forward in the FDA approval process, which would make more vaccines available, Beshear said.
“I’m very grateful to see it looks like Kentucky has been one of the more rapid states to deploy the vaccine,” added Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, also calling on the federal government to provide more doses.
Last week, Beshear announced a partnership with Kroger Health to open drive-thru regional vaccination sites on Feb. 1. These sites, with locations still to be determined, will provide vaccines for Kentuckians in phases 1A through 1C. More details on the sites and how to make appointments is expected from state officials next week.
St. Elizabeth Healthcare, HealthPoint Family Care and Northern Kentucky Health have begun vaccinating people in Phase 1B, including K-12 school personnel and people 70 and older. Find more information on scheduling a vaccine appointment and what to bring with you here.
Kentucky hopes to complete first doses of vaccines for willing K-12 personnel through their school district by the end of the week of Feb. 1.
Beshear also announced that Kentucky hospitals would receive up to $1 billion annually to help the quality of care of Medicaid members and “provide a stable base for hospitals that will extend beyond the financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
COVID-19 cases decline after holiday jump
After a "post-holiday jump" which included the highest week on record for new COVID-19 cases, Beshear said that surge appears to be declining. He reported 2,250 new cases of COVID-19 and 27 deaths on Tuesday.
"While we may have had a couple weeks of not following the rules, it would indicate that people are working and trying really hard, and for that we're grateful," the governor said.
Since the pandemic began, 330,907 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19, and 3,194 have died of the virus.
Hospitalizations fell slightly at the start of the week, with 1,633 Kentuckians currently hospitalized for COVID-19, 442 people in intensive care units and 208 on ventilators. The state's coronavirus fatality rate now sits at 0.96%, and its test positivity rate is 11.55%.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 4,371 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 25,383 people have recovered from the virus as of Tuesday. Since the pandemic began, 187 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Beshear vetoes bills seeking to limit his power
Beshear also defended his recent vetoes of Kentucky bills limiting the governor’s powers during an emergency.
He argued that most Kentuckians were in favor of recent pandemic measures, which included temporarily halting indoor dining and in-person learning during a surge in COVID-19 cases. He said those measures kept virus deaths lower than neighboring states.
House Bill 1 also seeks to keep businesses and schools open as long as they follow CDC pandemic guidelines, Beshear echoed CDC Director Robert Redfield’s caution against writing such guidelines into state law.
The Kentucky legislature can override a gubernatorial veto.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: