FRANKFORT, Ky. — Starting Monday, Kentucky's COVID-19 vaccine phase 1C opens to all residents 50 and older.
Right now, phase 1C's age group includes people 60 or older. Kentuckians can start signing up for appointments now, Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Thursday.
"We are in a race against these variants, and we've got to get (vaccines) out fast," he said.
Additionally, the governor pledged that every Kentuckian 16 and older will be eligible to get a vaccine starting April 12. Currently, 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. View the full list of qualifying conditions here.
Beshear said it could take until the end of May to vaccinate all Kentuckians, promising that everyone who wants a vaccine can get one by May 31.
“I hope to beat that April 12 date," he said. "That is a ‘latest date’ for us, and we will continue to watch both supply coming in and the demand."
Since doses first arrived in December, Kentucky has vaccinated more than 1.08 million individuals against COVID-19, with a record-breaking 165,000 new persons vaccinated last week.
As COVID-19 trends improve in Kentucky, specifically as its positivity rate fell to numbers not seen since July, Beshear announced that bars and restaurants can extend last call to midnight beginning on Friday.
Establishments must close by 1 a.m. Indoor capacity is still limited to 60%, and mask and distancing rules still apply, he said.
"Let's not mess this up. With two months and a couple of weeks until everybody who wants a vaccine, every adult, gets it, let's not mess this up. Please be responsible."
COVID-19 trends in Kentucky
Kentucky recorded 31 coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, including 12 cases in women from Boone County between the ages of 80 and 103, and three men, ages 80, 86 and 90. The death report also included a 98-year-old woman and 72-year-old man from Kenton County, and two women from Campbell County, ages 84 and 90. Beshear said some of those are historic deaths that showed up in the Northern Kentucky Health Department system.
Additionally, Kentucky's audit of coronavirus deaths released Thursday found 604 under-reported deaths from the November to January virus surge. In Northern Kentucky counties, 10 are from Kenton, six from Campbell, and five from Boone.
For comparison, Beshear said a similar audit in Ohio found 4,000 under-reported deaths there, and Indiana found 1,507.
On Thursday, the governor announced 785 new COVID-19 cases. Since last March, 419,149 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 5,504 have died of the virus. The state's positivity rate is now 3.23%, the lowest rate since July 3.
While COVID-19 cases and test positivity statewide have declined over the last nine weeks, new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky inmates have risen in the last month due to an outbreak at the Kentucky State Penitentiary. Health officials are also battling a new COVID-19 variant in 41 people at an Eastern Kentucky nursing home.
Statewide, hospitalizations continue to decline. Currently, 449 Kentuckians are hospitalized for COVID-19, with 110 people in intensive care units and 57 on ventilators.
NKY Health reports 633 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 39,212 people have recovered from the virus Thursday. Since the pandemic began, 316 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus. Track the spread on Kentucky's COVID-19 incidence rate map.
Watch a replay of the briefing below: