Beshear recommends in-person schools, says more vaccines on way

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – The amount of COVID-19 vaccine coming to Kentucky is getting a boost, Gov. Andy Beshear said during a Tuesday press briefing and he is also recommending an increase of in-person classes at schools.

The Biden Administration announced the increase on Tuesday, and the governor explained what that means to Kentucky. “It’s going to be a million more doses per week nationwide, which means more than 10,000 additional doses per week here in Kentucky. They guarantee that for at least three weeks. Additionally, there is a nominal increase of 100,000 nationwide, that’s about a thousand plus, here in Kentucky for the Federal Pharmacy Program.”

Last week’s winter storms delayed shipments of vaccine and forced postponement of delivering the doses, as the state only received about 6,800 doses compared to the 68,000 of the two prior weeks. Those shipments are now arriving, so Kentucky will have nearly 153,000 available this week.

Beshear also announced a new executive order recommending that all school districts and private schools offer or expand some form of in-person instructional opportunity starting March 1, or seven days after educators receive their second dose of the vaccine.

There are some requirements, which include:

--Universal mask wearing when indoors, on school grounds, and on the bus.

--Where six feet of space cannot be done, reduce density in classrooms, halls, school buses, and other areas where there is a heightened risk.

--Evaluate building ventilation systems.

--Regularly review their county’s incidence map.

--Keep a virtual option.

“This executive order recommends because this is still a local decision. School boards are elected all over the commonwealth, and it’s important that it’s a local decision.”

A total of 1,497 new positive cases of the coronavirus were reported to state public health officials on Tuesday, up from 530 on Monday. “Cases are just a little elevated, but two days into this week we’re about where we were last week,” he noted.

Kentucky’s two largest counties, Jefferson and Fayette, with 208 and 133 respectively, were the only ones over 100. The rest of the top ten: Boone 70, Laurel 65, Kenton 61, Warren 49, Pike 46, Daviess 39, Hardin 34 and Madison 31.

This brings Kentucky’s total number of positive cases to 399,013, since the first one was reported in Harrison County on March 6, 2020.

The state’s positivity rate continued to decline for the fifth day in a row. After peaking at 7.07% on Thursday, it has now dipped to 6.30%.

There were also 16 more deaths on Tuesday, raising the pandemic total to 4,476. The latest victims ranged in age from 30 to 92.

Jefferson County had seven; Whitley County two; and one each in Hopkins, McCracken, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Shelby, Spencer, and Warren counties.

The number of hospitalized Kentuckians rose to 894 on Tuesday, up from 870. Of them, 242 were in the ICU and 121 on a ventilator. Both figures were very close to Monday.

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