Gov. Beshear discusses cases after the holiday, vaccines at daily briefing

Gov. Andy Beshear during a daily coronavirus update on April 1.

Michael Dylan Payne

Gov. Andy Beshear gave his first media briefing since Thanksgiving Monday, providing updates on new COVID-19 cases within the state and a roadmap for a vaccine that could be available as early as the second week of December.

Today the Governor announced 2,124 new cases, bringing the total number of Kentucky cases up to 179,041, with 1,741 in the hospital and 229 on ventilators, up 11 from yesterday.

“There are more people needing hospitalization in Kentucky than ever before,” Beshear said. “We’ve got to make sure we can level off and decrease this demand.”

Beshear hopes the steps taken will start to save lives, but the incubation period could be 14-days before we start to see that decline. Now is more important than ever to double down our efforts, Beshear said.

“This is a story looking back, where Kentucky can be a national leader and is remembered as a national leader, because we care about each other and do what it takes,” Beshear said. 

A travel advisory is part of those recommendations made by his office that went into effect last week, and the list of states continues to grow.

“We have three states with an over 40% positivity rate,” Beshear said. “The advice we’re giving, is first of all, don’t travel, but if you must, we ask that you quarantine when you get back.”

The good news is the announcement of a game plan to distribute the COVID vaccines made by Pfizer and Modena, which could be administered to Kentuckians as early as the second week of December, he said.

“We believe we’re going to get our first allocation of Pfizer vaccines as early as mid-December,” he said.  “This will all depend on when it gets initial approval and then when shipping occurs.”

The University of Kentucky School of Medicine is participating in a trial shipping exercise designed to test the logistics of delivering the vaccine to the Commonwealth.

The university had until noon today to place their first order of the vaccine using the CDC’s website to allocate and distribute the vaccine. The package should have a tracking number by Tuesday and arrive at the facility between Wednesday and Friday.

According to Beshear, when the vaccines are shipped initially from Pfizer, Kentucky will receive 38,025 doses, of which 26,000 will go to long-term care facility patients and their staff.

The governor said since Friday, 445 long-term care residents and 292 long-term care providers contracted the virus, and 70 deaths have been attributed to long-term care facilities in the last 3-days.

“In Kentucky, 66% of everyone we’ve lost to COVID has been in a long-term care facility,” Beshear said.  “If we can cut out 66% of the deaths, that is really good news.”

The additional 12,000 doses will be given to front-line workers, recognized and approved by the federal government. Beshear said initially these shipments will be very limited.

“If Pfizer and Moderna stay above 90% effectiveness, then it’s incredible news, and we can put this entire pandemic in the past,” Beshear said.  “We expect to receive the Moderna vaccine about two weeks after we’ve received the Pfizer vaccines.”

Michael Dylan Payne can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mdpayne_.