FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 4, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear said weekly COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates, as well as COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU admittances, ventilator uses and orders for monoclonal antibody treatments in the commonwealth, are declining due to more Kentuckians getting vaccinated and masking up indoors.
While declining cases are encouraging, Gov. Beshear and health care leaders at King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Ashland said Kentuckians need to stay vigilant about protecting themselves from the virus days after the United States’ COVID-19 death toll surpassed 700,000.
“Overall, today’s report is positive in the trends, but what is still really hard is the loss of life we continue to see, and that loss being preventable,” said Gov. Beshear. “This is going to be a scar that the American people carry with us moving forward. That’s why we need to make sure the cases are not only dropping, but dropping at a significant rate. We need to accelerate the trend.”
“The things we’re seeing now are not what I ever expected,” said Danielle Sexton, COVID unit nurse manager at King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC). “Death and dying are a part of nursing, unfortunately, but not to this extent. I mean, this is just extreme right now.”
“At least 95% of my patients that walk out of here or, sadly, that don’t make it, have said to me: ‘I wish I would’ve gotten vaccinated,’” said Carly Thomas, RN, COVID unit nurse at KDMC. “I think that we should trust science a little more than we are and stop making this so political, because it is killing people.”
“In the emergency room, we’re packed full. There are days when there are 20 to 30 people out in the lobby waiting for a bed. We’re trying our best to prioritize the patients that need to be seen,” said Rebecca Harper, RN, emergency room nurse at KDMC. “People are not getting vaccinated for COVID, they’re not social distancing and not wearing their mask and they’re coming in sicker than I’ve ever seen before. It’s emotionally draining when you see people that are young, that you know would’ve lived a full life if they just made a different decision and maybe would’ve gotten the vaccine. People who look at you and are smothering essentially, and they literally say, ‘If I could’ve done anything differently, I would’ve gotten the vaccine.’”
“With this surge, the patients are typically younger,” said Tiffany Waggoner, RN, emergency room nurse at KDMC.
“‘Should someone be on the ventilator for this amount of time, when would they want to come off of it or when would we want to transition to comfort care?’ These are the talks that we’re having with families right now that are hard. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing them come off the ventilator to live life afterwards.”
COVID-19 Case Information, Vaccinations Update
Number of people who have received at least one vaccine dose in Kentucky: 2,719,398
Oct. 2, Cases: 2,511
Oct. 2, Deaths: 54
Oct. 3, Cases: 1,201
Oct. 3, Deaths: 22
New Cases Today: 1,239
New Deaths: 26
Today’s Positivity Rate: 9.31%
Current Hospitalizations: 1,668
Current Intensive Care Admittances: 496
Currently on Ventilators: 332
From March 1 to Sept. 29, 86.2% of COVID-19 cases, 92.4% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 84.5% of COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky have been among those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
The Governor reported that 61% of all Kentuckians, including those that are too young to be eligible, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose; 71% of Kentuckians 12 or older, or 71%, of all eligible Kentuckians, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose; and 74% of Kentucky adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Kentucky ranks third among neighboring states for the percent of residents 12 or older who have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; the percent of residents 65 and older who have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; and the percent of residents 12 and older who are fully vaccinated.
Pregnant Kentuckians Strongly Encouraged to Get Vaccinated
Gov. Beshear said pregnant Kentuckians are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine. As of Sept. 27, 2021, 125,000 pregnant Americans have tested positive for COVID-19; 22,000 have been hospitalized; 161 have died; and 97% of those hospitalized were unvaccinated.
Vaccine Booster and Expanded Approval Update
The Governor said on Oct. 14-15, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee will discuss booster doses of Moderna and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. On Oct. 26, the FDA anticipates the advisory committee will discuss authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.
Gov. Beshear reminded Kentuckians that Pfizer vaccine booster eligible occupations at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission previously detailed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:
- First responders (health care, firefighters, police, congregate care);
- Education (teachers, professors, support staff, day care workers);
- Food and agriculture workers;
- Manufacturing workers;
- Corrections workers;
- U.S. Postal Service workers;
- Public transit workers; and
- Grocery store workers.
kynect State-Based Exchange Opens Nov. 1, Offering Access to Quality Health Coverage
Taking another major step forward in his commitment to provide quality health care to Kentuckians, Gov. Beshear announced kynect, the state-based health insurance exchange, will reopen Nov. 1, 2021. It will provide Kentuckians easier access to health coverage and other benefits, all on one convenient platform at kynect.ky.gov. To learn more, see the full release.
“Quality health care is a basic human right – and never has that need been more evident than during the COVID-19 global health pandemic,” said Gov. Beshear. “Kentucky’s economy has caught fire, and we’ve just landed the largest economic investment in the state’s history, but we can’t succeed in building a better Kentucky if our people are not healthy and ready to work. kynect was a lifesaver for so many when it was first offered in 2013, and we’re excited to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bring it back and make sure all Kentuckians can easily access the health plans and benefits they deserve.”
Essential Worker Hero Bonus
Gov. Beshear said for nearly two years, Kentuckians on the frontlines of this pandemic have worked tirelessly to save lives and ensure critical needs were met for families.
“Despite the dangers, they still showed up. From health care heroes to first responders to grocery store workers and educators, the bravery and dedication of these essential workers has remained strong,” said the Governor. “As we are on month 18, almost 19, of this pandemic, it’s important to have something out there to continue to push them to move on, something to look forward to, something that you can call a reward or a hero bonus.”
To honor the work essential workers have done and to encourage them to continue in their employment, in the next seven to 10 days, Gov. Beshear will send a recommendation and overall framework to the General Assembly to use $400 million in upcoming American Rescue Plan Act funding for essential worker bonuses, for individuals who stay in their roles for at least two full years after the start of the pandemic in Kentucky, on March 6, 2020.
“This is something that when we send to the legislature, we are going to ask for cooperation and the formation of a working group that would include legislators, legislative staff, as well as executive branch staff, to go through the who and the how much to make sure that we do this right based on our experience and to make sure we hear from and listen to different groups, including legislators from what they have been seeing in their district,” said Gov. Beshear.
Kentucky National Guard Update
The Governor said Kentucky National Guardsmen continue to serve and support hospital staff across the state.
“We still have almost 450 Army and Air Guardsmen helping augment our hospitals, providing mobile vaccinations and helping with our food pantry mission,” said Gov. Beshear. “We’re grateful for their continued sacrifice. They’re away from their families and their places of employment to help those most in need, and we couldn’t do this without them.”
“Everything we’re doing at these hospitals supports the logistics and administrative efforts for the medical facility,” said Second Lt. Anissa Lopez-Chavez, Officer in Charge for Rockcastle Regional Hospital support mission in Mount Vernon, Ky. “The hospital staff love us, and we absolutely love them. They’re grateful that we’re here, and we’re honored to get to serve them.”