Governor Andy Beshear said the delta variant is serious even among vaccinated Kentuckians and the state has seen three straight weeks of increasing cases. Kentucky’s current positivity rate has also jumped to 5.45%. It was just below 4.5% on Friday. The spread of cases is clear on the statewide map, there were eight red zone counties as of Monday, up from five on Friday. Clusters of cases are also being reported from gatherings such as camps, concerts and sporting events. There have been at least 34 since May 31st in the Commonwealth.
While those who are vaccinated can still get infected with COVID; these are being called breakthrough infections, Beshear said the number of new cases among Kentuckians who are vaccinated is very low compared to those who are not vaccinated and vaccinated Kentuckians who get the virus are seeing far fewer symptoms.
The Governor and State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the number one way you can protect yourself is by getting vaccinated “immediately.” They also reiterated the recommendation that all unvaccinated Kentuckians wear a mask indoors when you are not in your home. If you have a high-risk medical condition or work in a job with significant exposure you should mask up. These are recommendations and not mandates.
Dr. Stack also explained how the spread of the virus is curbed as more people are vaccinated and raised concerns for areas of the state with low vaccination rates. The vast majority of cases are the delta variant and has continued to triple for the past three weeks nationally. Stack said it is far more difficult for a vaccinated person who gets infected to pass the virus to another vaccinated person, thus slowing the spread.
It has been just over five weeks since Beshear lifted most COVID mandates in the state and said he believes he made the right decision. “I believe the decisions we made given conditions that were on the ground at the time was the right decision and the difference now between any time before is people have personal decision they can make that protects them to a very significant degree. We also know a lot more about the virus now.” Dr. Stack added that “This is a different journey we are on right now. Because of the vaccines we all have a choice, a choice that can help protect us from this illness…the vaccines clearly work. They make a huge difference. You will be safer and all of us will be safer if we all get vaccinated.”
As for the return to the classrooms in the fall Beshear said the Kentucky Department of Education has been very proactive and he believes there “will be ongoing conversations” and he is confident school districts are taking the virus seriously, especially since children under the age of 12 are not eligible to get vaccinated. He said his own daughter, who is too young to get the shot will be wearing a mask when school starts regardless of the regulations at her school.
Both the Governor and Dr. Stack closed Monday’s COVID briefing by encouraging everyone who hasn’t done so yet to get vaccinated.