FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky surpassed two milestones Monday as the 1 millionth Kentuckian received a COVID-19 vaccine and the commonwealth saw coronavirus deaths top 5,000 since the first Kentucky case was reported March 6, 2020.
Since vaccines first arrived in December, Kentucky has vaccinated more than 1 million individuals against COVID-19, with a record 142,000 new persons vaccinated in the last week. Gov. Andy Beshear reported 33% of all vaccines have gone to people 70 and older, and 70% of all vaccines have been given to people 50 and older.
Kentucky expanded who's eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in phase 1C to include more health conditions that may put people at risk of severe illness. People 16 and older with medical and behavioral risk factors that the CDC considers "might" cause severe COVID-19 illness are now able to get a vaccine.
Conditions include Type 1 diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure, overweight (BMI greater than 25 but less than 30), cystic fibrosis, asthma and others. However, Kentucky will not consider smoking a qualifying condition to get a vaccine.
View the full list of qualifying conditions here. Vaccination sites are still encouraged to prioritize doses by age and to use 90% of doses within seven days of delivery.
New COVID-19 cases, positivity rate declining
Kentucky recorded 396 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and 23 virus deaths, including a 47-year-old man from Kenton County.
Since last March, 416,610 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 5,005 have died of the virus. The state's positivity rate is now 3.99%.
To honor those lost to the coronavirus pandemic, Beshear said a permanent memorial will be erected at the Kentucky capitol. With more than 5,000 lives now lost to COVID-19, more Kentuckians have died from the virus than died in combat during World War I, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War combined.
“The memorial will remind future generations of the hardships the entire commonwealth endured during this difficult time and the sacrifices we made to overcome it," Beshear said Monday.
COVID-19 cases and test positivity have declined over the last nine weeks, the governor said Monday. As conditions improve, Beshear said Kentucky can begin lifting restrictions including limits on private gatherings.
“If we continue to see this trend, we can relax some of these restrictions even more," he said. "Remember though, we want to be careful. If we are two months and a couple weeks from everybody who wants a vaccine getting it, we want to make sure we bring everybody to the finish line, and we don’t stop hustling in the fourth quarter."
Hospitalizations continue to decline. Currently, 464 Kentuckians are hospitalized for COVID-19, with 114 people in intensive care units and 67 on ventilators.
NKY Health reports 727 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 38,974 people have recovered from the virus Monday. Since the pandemic began, 292 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus. Track the spread on Kentucky's COVID-19 incidence rate map.
Visits resume at nursing homes; childcare capacity relaxed
Kentucky allowed indoor visitation to resume Monday for long-term care facilities for residents who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated residents can choose to have close contact with their loved ones by wearing a face mask and practicing proper hand washing hygiene during the visit.
Visitors to care facilities must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the scheduled visit, and they are encouraged to get vaccinated.
Group activities and communal dining also resumed Monday for vaccinated residents. Learn more about the requirements here.
Licensed child care facilities can also return to pre-pandemic group sizes. Classrooms must not mix with children from other classrooms throughout the day.
Visitor restrictions are still in effect for child care facilities, though a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential candidate and a professor to participate in final observation for that CDA credential.
All childcare providers are also encouraged to get vaccinated.
Watch a replay of the briefing below: