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Beshear urges COVID-19 vaccination as positivity rate edges over 9%

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During Thursday’s Team Kentucky update, Governor Andy Beshear reported that 60% of all Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but infection numbers are beginning to rise again. Arlo Barnette reports.

"We are in an escalation again, at the moment."

The governor said although the Omicron variant has now been identified in the United States, the Delta variant is behind the current rise in COVID-19 numbers. This week, Kentucky reported the highest daily number of new cases since October 1st: 3,312 new cases on Wednesday. Thursday saw 2,841 new cases, over 25% of which were in kids aged 18 and under. 40 new COVID-related deaths were reported on Thursday, and the testing positivity rate rose to 9.20%.

"We don't know if it's behavior-driven, it could be driven by the holidays or the winter . . . Now, I do believe part of that is waning immunity."

Beshear said it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated and boosted. All Kentucky adults are now eligible to receive a booster, and over 581,000 Kentuckians (13% of the state’s population) have gotten one.

"If it's been six months since you were vaccinated, you are not nearly as protected as you were right after that. Get the booster shot and at least against Delta you'll be in pretty good shape--we know you'll be in the best shape we can get you in for Omicron, as we learn more about it."

From March 1 to Dec. 1, 2021, over 82% of all COVID-19 cases and deaths in Kentucky were among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals.

From the Office of Governor Andy Beshear:

“I want to acknowledge that 60% of Kentuckians vaccinated is not enough, but this has never been done in the history of the world before,” said Gov. Beshear. “It hasn’t even been a year since the first vaccines were shipped out, and we’ve got 60% of every man, woman and child who lives in this state vaccinated. We need to be proud of that accomplishment and use it as motivation to keep going.”

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, noted the COVID-19 omicron variant has now been identified in the United States. The variant has not yet been found in Kentucky. Dr. Stack said he is working with local health departments and labs to identify suspected cases as quickly as possible. The variant has several genetic changes. Research is underway to determine if these changes impact transmissibility, severity, immunity and treatments.

“The question is: What is the impact and what do we do about it? It is important to be careful and concerned but it is not a time to panic,” said Dr. Stack. “We have much better tools than when this pandemic started – the future is not outside our control.”

The Governor and Dr. Stack said it is more important than ever to: Get vaccinated and boosted (all Kentucky adults are eligible to receive a vaccination booster); wear a mask in indoor public settings; get tested after experiencing symptoms; and stay home when sick.

Gov. Beshear said as the pandemic evolves, so does the data that state officials track and publish on kycovid19.ky.gov.

“Since the start of administering vaccines, we’ve been frequently asked what ‘vaccinated’ means. To help provide that information, we’ve made enhancements to the vaccination data,” said Gov. Beshear.

It is now possible to find the number of fully vaccinated Kentuckians and the number who have received the booster. The Governor said the site continues to define “fully vaccinated” as being two weeks beyond receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two weeks beyond the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccination shot. This information can also be broken down by age and vaccine brand using a dropdown menu. Users can now access a map where they can learn the number of vaccinations and boosters by county broken down by age and vaccine brand.

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