Beshear lifts travel restrictions as COVID-19 positivity rates stagnate

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Governor Andy Beshear announced a two-day total of 409 new positive COVID-19 cases and nine COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky. The state did not provide a Sunday report due to the Easter holiday.

Kentucky’s positivity rate has fluctuated between 2.89% and 2.9% since Sunday. The state’s positivity rate has remained relatively the same in the past three weeks. Beshear wants Kentuckians to be concerned about the plateau.

“It’s not good news if we are no longer declining [in COVID-19 cases],” Beshear said. “It’s good news that we are not currently in an escalation, but remember other states that were declining plateaued for a period, then increased.”

Beshear said Kentuckians can contribute to reducing the positivity rate by getting vaccinated and by continuing to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing. 

Kentucky’s streak of weekly declining cases ended at 12 on Monday. The state had 4,377 COVID-19 cases this past week and 4,196 the week prior, Beshear said.

Over 1.4 million Kentuckians have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of those people, 132,162 are between the ages of 16 and 29.

Between March 30 and April 5, 104,913 Kentuckians received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state has used about half of the weekly doses allocated for first-time recipients during the week of March 30. Beshear is concerned about a possible stall in COVID-19 vaccine demand, but he said it’s too early to tell if a sustained slowdown is currently occurring.

“We believe that having 1.4 million new people eligible [for the COVID-19 vaccine] should make up for some of this lagging demand, but we really need you to get the vaccine,” Beshear said.

Beshear is pleased with the recent rise in vaccinations among the Black and African American population in Kentucky. 63,840 Black and African American Kentuckians have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which accounts for approximately 5.08% of the total vaccinated population in the state.

“There’s a huge amount of community leadership that is having an incredibly positive impact,” Beshear said. “We are committed to getting [the Black and African American population] with the rest of the population.”

Due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new travel guidelines for fully vaccinated people, Kentucky will no longer prohibit domestic travel for residents who have been fully vaccinated, according to Beshear.

The CDC stated that fully vaccinated Americans do not need to engage in self-quarantine or receive a COVID-19 test before and after traveling domestically.

“If you’re not fully vaccinated, [domestic travel] is not safe for you, not even remotely” Beshear said. “We are advising not to engage in any non-essential travel if you are not vaccinated.”

Of the 83 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 2 cases are from Warren County. The B.1.1.7 variant originated from the United Kingdom.

“If you’re vaccinated, you are not in danger of getting COVID from the [U.K.] variant and [the vaccine] almost eliminates the possibility of hospitalization,” Beshear said. “The number one reason why you need to get the vaccine is because we will see more cases because of the variants. COVID-19 is more dangerous with the variants.”

Leo Bertucci can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @leober2chee.