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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky ended a 12-week streak period of steady declines in new cases of COVID-19 last week, and the eligibility list for the vaccines has expanded, Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Monday.

“We had 4,377 new cases in this last week,” he said during a Capitol press briefing.  “The week before, it was 4,196.  It means Kentucky, at least as of this week, is no longer on the decline.”

The positivity rate has also remained nearly constant for the past three weeks, which is just below three percent, according to the governor. 

“What we believe at this point is that we’ve hit a plateau, but we are not currently in an escalation,” he stated.  “It’s not good news that we are no longer declining.  We always want to be declining.  Remember, our numbers are still fairly high, compared to early in the pandemic.  It’s good news, though, that we are not escalating.  But remember, other states that were declining, plateaued for a period and then increased.

“That means we need to be vigilant, we need to be a little bit concerned, and in being concerned we need to say, ‘Yes, a fourth wave is absolutely possible,’ because every other time we’d have an increase then a plateau for a period, then we’d have an increase.  Here we’ve had a decrease, but now a plateau.  Every time we’ve had a plateau, we’ve had an increase.”

He said Kentucky can avoid the increase by doing two things: “Number one, continue to wear a mask and social distance.  We’re in the fourth quarter and we have to keep playing.  We can’t fumble the ball this late.  Number two, get vaccinated.  Even with the variations and mutations that we see, we get everybody vaccinated, by and large no one goes to the hospital and nobody dies.”

Beshear noted that many states are also seeing a plateau, and some a significant increase.  Those increases are in younger Americans.  Younger Americans are getting the virus more, younger Americans being hospitalized more.  Now, it is more critical than ever that we get everyone vaccinated, especially our younger people who now qualify.

Monday marked the first day that everyone 18 and older can get the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while those 16 and older can receive the Pfizer version.

Kentucky’s daily numbers were lower than usual for both Sunday and Monday, likely due to the Easter holiday weekend.

There were 299 new cases of the coronavirus reported to state public health officials on Sunday.  Only five counties had double digit numbers of cases: Jefferson with 51, Fayette 20, Boyd 15, Trigg 12, and Clark had 11.

There were also five new deaths reported from local health departments and nine more from the ongoing audit of death certificates between the end of October and the end of January, for a total of 14.

On Monday, there were 110 new cases.  Jefferson County had 35 new cases, while the other counties had six or less.  The pandemic total has now reached 429,511.

Four new deaths were reported Monday, along with another four from the audit.  That means 6,171 Kentuckians have died due to COVID-19.

The state’s positivity rate is now 2.9%, based on a seven-day rolling average.  It had been just over three percent on Friday and Saturday.

The governor, along with State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, shared new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated Americans can safely travel domestically. Updated travel guidance will be posted on the state’s website soon.

“We all need to get vaccinated as soon as we can so fewer variants have the opportunity to form,” said Dr. Stack. “We’ve got to stay vigilant. Wear your masks, wash your hands, socially distance and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”

To see the state’s full daily COVID-19 report, which includes such information as the red zone counties and red zone recommendations, testing locations, vaccine sites and availability, the weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky, executive orders, revised travel guidance from the CDC and

other information on the state’s pandemic response, go to kycovid19.ky.gov.

The next press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, although his office is expected to release daily numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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