As Kentucky’s trajectory of new COVID-19 infections remains plateaued, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 313 new cases of COVID-19 across the state on Monday, along with eight more virus-related deaths.
“We are indeed, and have been for weeks, in a plateau,” Beshear said in a live news conference. “It’s also what we’re seeing in our test positivity,” he said of the Monday rate of Kentuckians testing positive: 3.45%.
Likewise, the rate of coronavirus-related hospitalizations remain plateaued. On Monday there were 414 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 102 in intensive care and 47 on a ventilator.
More than 1,848,270 Kentuckians have received at least an initial dose of a coronavirus vaccine — roughly 52 percent of the population over the age of 16 and more than 40% of the total population. Woodford County boasts the highest vaccination rate in the state, with 55% of its population vaccinated. More than 50% of residents in Franklin and Fayette counties are vaccinated, and upwards of 40% in Scott and Jefferson counties.
The counties with the lowest vaccination rates are Christian, Spencer, Ballard, McCreary and Lewis counties, where 20% or fewer of people have received a dose. Statewide, nearly 80% of people ages 65 and older are vaccinated (the most of any age group), compared with 37% of people ages 30-39 and 43% of people between 40 and 49.
Last week, 107,306 shots were administered across the commonwealth. The most shots Kentucky has ever injected into people’s arms in a single week was 119,906 the week of April 6-12. Though the doling out of doses has slowed in recent weeks, the commonwealth is still inoculating at a faster pace than all other southern states except Florida, Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said.
“Even while the vaccination rate has slowed down, Kentucky continues to perform very well, compared to our region and the nation,” Stack said.
Over the weekend, more than 50,000 people attended the first in-person Kentucky Derby since the start of the pandemic. Though outdoors, it was held at reduced capacity to allow for more spacing between attendees. Fans were still supposed to wear masks, but it wasn’t easily enforceable and many removed theirs once inside Churchill Downs.
“We didn’t have as many people wearing masks as they should. That’s something we will have to improve on in the future,” the governor said. Even so, “we were proud as a commonwealth to be able to host the Kentucky Derby even in the midst of a pandemic,” he said.
Late last month, Beshear relaxed some coronavirus restrictions outdoors, saying fully vaccinated people in crowds of fewer than 1,000 people no longer had to wear masks, though people in groups with more than 1,000 people should still wear one. Everyone, no matter their vaccination status, is still required to wear a mask in all indoor public places.
In long-term care facilities on Monday, where the virus has been virtually stamped out because of widespread vaccination among residents, Beshear said the number of new cases could be “trending up and that is of concern.” Eight residents and 16 staff were newly positive on Monday.
Three of the eight deaths announced Thursday are from the state’s ongoing audit of previously uncounted deaths attributable to the virus. Those three people died in November and January. At least 6,525 people in Kentucky have died from COVID-19.