Kentucky Gov. Beshear says vaccine to arrive by mid-December

Mid-South

FILE – In this Monday, May 11, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., to provide an update on the coronavirus situation. Kentucky voters concerned about being at risk of contracting the coronavirus will be able to cast mail-in ballots under a bipartisan agreement reached by Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky is likely to receive about 38,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine by the middle of December, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday.

Long-term care residents and staff, as well as front-line health care workers at hospitals, will be the first to receive doses, he said. A second round of coronavirus vaccines, manufactured by Moderna, will be made available by the end the year, according to the governor.

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“A light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter,” Beshear, a Democrat, said, as he urged Kentuckians to continue to follow public health guidelines aimed at protecting residents in long-term care. “If we don’t do our part between now and then, there are people in those facilities that will never get to see that vaccine, or get the benefit of it,” he said.

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, noted the amount of doses is one-third of what state officials had expected.

The distribution of the vaccines to those that live and work in long-term care, while limited, would reduce the number of deaths and the virus’s pressure on the health care system, Stack said, because long-term care facilities require larger amounts of testing resources and personal protective equipment. Nursing home residents have also accounted for two-thirds of coronavirus-related deaths in the state, he added.

“This is important because we have over 200,000 health care professionals in the state of Kentucky,” Stack said. “And if we’re only going to get less than 100,000 doses in the first month or month and a half, we’re going to have to make sure we get the people who need it the most, who will benefit the most, and then work forward from there.”

Governor Beshear on Monday reported 2,124 new confirmed coronavirus cases, more than 1,700 people hospitalized and 12 virus-related deaths. About 200 school-age children have tested positive for the virus, they said. Beshear advised that the number of testing centers closed over the Thanksgiving holiday may explain the lower number of new cases than in previous days.

Almost all of Kentucky’s 120 counties are reported to be in the red zone — the most serious category for COVID-19 incidence rates. People in those counties are asked to follow stricter guidelines to contain the virus.

The state’s test positivity rate is 9.42%, up roughly 0.5 percentage points from a week ago Monday. The positivity rate is an indicator of the extent of the spread of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. If the rate is less than 5% for two weeks and testing is widespread, the virus is considered under control.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.

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