FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear has extended Kentucky's mask mandate for another 30 days, adding it would likely be extended again until enough Kentuckians can receive COVID-19 vaccines.
“(Masks) are working," the governor said. "To lift this mandate now would leave us vulnerable at a time that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and where we are headed for victory. We cannot let that happen."
Beshear reported 1,623 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky on Monday, higher than last week's Monday case count but generally lower than past weeks.
The governor also reported 35 virus-related deaths, including three men from Boone County, ages 67, 69 and 71, and two men from Kenton County, ages 68 and 79.
Since March, 362,890 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 3,745 have died of the virus. The state's test positivity rate has fallen to 8.85%.
Hospitalizations continued to fall Monday: 1,314 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, with 337 people in intensive care units and 178 on ventilators. Beshear said Kentucky's hospital capacity, including intensive care units, is stable across the state. Kentucky's coronavirus fatality rate has risen slightly to 1.03%.
After a more contagious variant of coronavirus, first identified in the United Kingdom and confirmed in two Kenton County cases, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said that 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.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 4,289 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, and 29,391 people have recovered from the virus as of Monday. Since the pandemic began, 222 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Regional vaccination hubs coming to Ky.
Four regional COVID-19 vaccination hubs are set to open in Kentucky this week.
None of the regional hubs, announced on 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 vaccine 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. 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.
Officials said Kentucky will run three vaccination hubs -- two in Paducah and one in Danville. More vaccination sites are expected to be announced soon. Jim Gray, Kentucky's director of vaccine distribution, said he hopes to have sites close enough that Kentuckians don't have to travel more than a county away to receive their vaccine.
More than 413,000 Kentuckians have received COVID-19 vaccine doses since December, and first doses for K-12 educators and staff are expected to be completed statewide by the end of this week.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: