FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky on Thursday announced four regional COVID-19 vaccination hubs which will prioritize Kentuckians age 70 and older in the state's vaccine phase 1B.
None of the regional hubs announced Thursday are within an hour's drive of Northern Kentucky. At this time, St. Elizabeth, HealthPoint and NKY Health are administering vaccines to those in phase 1B.
Kroger Health will operate the closest regional vaccine hub at the Kentucky Horse Park at 4089 Iron Works Pkwy in Lexington. The site, expected to administer about 3,000 doses in its first week, opens Tuesday, Feb. 2. Kentuckians can be vaccinated by appointment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday the week of Feb. 1, then from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday beginning the week of Feb. 8.
You must have an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine scheduled at www.kroger.com/covidvaccine. To learn if you're eligible to receive a vaccine now, visit vaccine.ky.gov or call Kentucky's vaccine hotline (855) 598-2246, active 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
On Thursday, officials said Kentucky will run three more vaccination hubs -- two in Paducah and one in Danville -- opening next week.
More vaccination sites are expected to be announced as soon as next week.
“Our plan, as the supply increases, is to announce additional regional sites in the coming weeks…while also continuing to work with local health departments and other providers,” said Jim Gray, Kentucky’s director of vaccine distribution.
For now, regional hubs will prioritize Kentuckians 70 and older in vaccine phase 1B, but people eligible under 1C will be able to schedule appointments so sites can quickly administer as many doses as possible.
“We wanted to be fully open to 1C by this week," said Gov. Andy Beshear said. "There are two things that kept that from happening: one is supply, and the other is demand."
More than 338,500 Kentuckians have received COVID-19 vaccine doses since December, and first doses have been administered to the residents and staff at all Kentucky assisted living facilities.
Another record high for daily virus deaths
Kentucky recorded 69 virus-related deaths Thursday, breaking the record high set one week ago (58 deaths). Beshear also reported 2,947 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest Thursday in four weeks. The governor said while new cases are low now, many deaths can be attributed to a post-holiday surge in cases.
Since March, 355,877 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 3,611 have died of the virus. The state's test positivity rate fell again to 9.04%, its fourth straight day under 10%.
Hospitalizations fell on Thursday, 1,561 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, with 370 people in intensive care units and 205 on ventilators. Kentucky's coronavirus fatality rate now sits at 0.99%.
A more contagious variant of coronavirus, first identified in the United Kingdom, has now been confirmed in two Kenton County cases. Beshear said both individuals are "doing OK," adding that officials assume the new strain has spread "beyond those two individuals."
The variant was discovered with the help of Covington's Gravity Diagnostics, and the B.1.1.7 variant was confirmed after a state lab conducted genetic sequencing.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said that because the new virus strain is now in Kentucky, it is critical to wear masks around others, keep social distancing, wash hands and quarantine if exposed to a COVID-19 case, feel sick or test positive for the virus.
“It’s not more dangerous for the person who gets it than the previous version of the virus, but since more people can get it more quickly and more easily, that means you could have more people get sick, more people who die,” he said.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 4,453 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 28,224 people have recovered from the virus as of Thursday. Since the pandemic began, 203 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: