FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear and state health officials are encouraging every eligible Kentuckian to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they can to prevent the virus from mutating and spreading.
Time is of the essence to get the COVID-19 vaccine to outpace mutations of the virus that have shown to spread faster, Beshear said Monday. There are now 41 cases of "variants of concern" across Kentucky, including 11 cases in Kenton County, five in Boone County and four in Campbell County.
"This is a race, and therefore we need people willing to go in and get the vaccine as soon as possible," Beshear said.
Now, all Kentuckians 40 and older are eligible to get their COVID-19 shot. Every Kentuckian 16 and older is expected to be eligible to get their vaccine starting by April 12. Beshear said that everyone who wants a vaccine should be able to get one by the end of May.
“There are vaccine appointments available, and real-life studies have shown how effective, life-changing and life-saving they can be,” the governor said.
Since doses first arrived in December, Kentucky has vaccinated more than 1.3 million individuals against COVID-19, and officials estimate that 70% of Kentuckians age 70 and older have been vaccinated.
New COVID-19 cases decline for 11 weeks
New cases of COVID-19 have declined for the last 11 weeks, and the state's test positivity rate has fallen in recent months to 2.89%.
The governor cautioned that Kentucky must continue to use "common sense" practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as other states see case numbers rising. Even as neighboring Indiana announced its mask mandate will expire April 6, Beshear said he plans to renew Kentucky’s mask mandate until it is safe to lift it.
"That's what happens if we give up too early, if we don't play out the game, if we quit in the fourth quarter, if we stop wearing our masks," Beshear said.
Beshear also discouraged "non-essential travel" during spring break.
Kentucky recorded 310 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, as well as 11 deaths.
Since last March, 425,333 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 6,042 have died of the virus. Currently, 364 Kentuckians are hospitalized for COVID-19, with 87 people in intensive care units and 41 on ventilators.
NKY Health reports 461 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 39,822 people have recovered from the virus Monday. Since the pandemic began, 390 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: