FRANKFORT, Ky. — For 10 consecutive weeks, Kentucky has seen new cases of COVID-19 in decline.
"The longer we see declining cases, the more people who aren't dealing with COVID, the fewer people who get sick, the fewer people who dies and the more restrictions that we can ease as we are hopefully coming out of this thing," Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.
The state's test positivity rate has also fallen in recent weeks to 2.93%.
As the state's COVID-19 numbers continue to fall, vaccinations continue to accelerate. Starting Monday, Kentucky's COVID-19 vaccine phase 1C opened to all residents 50 and older.
Additionally, the governor pledged that every Kentuckian 16 and older will be eligible to get a vaccine starting by 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 1.1 million individuals against COVID-19.
As COVID-19 trends improve in Kentucky, specifically as its positivity rate fell to numbers not seen since July, bars and restaurants were allowed to extend last call to midnight last weekend.
Bars and restaurants must close by 1 a.m. Indoor capacity is still limited to 60%, and mask and distancing rules still apply, he said.
COVID-19 in Kentucky
Kentucky reported 294 cases of COVID-19 Monday. The governor also reported 11 virus-related deaths, including a 69-year-old woman from Kenton County, as well as 50 previously unreported deaths discovered during the state's COVID-19 death audit.
Since last March, 421,121 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 5,799 have died of the virus.
Statewide, hospitalizations continue to decline. Currently, 434 Kentuckians are hospitalized for COVID-19, with 95 people in intensive care units and 63 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, health officials are also battling a new COVID-19 variant found in 41 people at an Eastern Kentucky nursing home, but the governor said there is no concern that this variant will become widespread.
NKY Health reports 556 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 39,469 people have recovered from the virus Monday. Since the pandemic began, 353 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: