Beshear announces 331 new COVID-19 cases, 25% of Kentucky vaccinated

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 331 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new coronavirus-related deaths in Kentucky on Monday. The daily case total was the lowest since Sept. 14.

Kentucky’s weekly COVID-19 case count and positivity rate declined for the eighth consecutive week. The state’s current positivity rate is 4.06%.

“This is the exact type of trajectory we want to see as we are vaccinating people,” Beshear said. “This is a race against the (COVID-19) variants. If we can continue that downward trajectory while increasing the number of people vaccinated, then we can hopefully get to the end of this thing sooner rather than later.”

With one day remaining in the current period, Kentucky has surpassed its weekly record for new persons vaccinated for COVID-19. 113,811 Kentuckians were vaccinated between March 2 and March 8.

“We are catching up from that large amount of supply we got after weather delayed it for a week,” Beshear said. “We are excited about how many Kentuckians are getting vaccinated right now.”

834,130 Kentuckians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Beshear said the state has vaccinated over 25% of its adult population.

Over 86% of Kentuckians who have received the COVID-19 vaccine identify as white. 4.77% of vaccine recipients in Kentucky identified as Black or African American. Beshear said the state needs to continue to work on distributing the vaccine in an equitable manner.

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, addressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendations for people who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

According to the CDC, a person who has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 can interact without wearing a mask with a small group of people who have been fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated persons should wait at least two weeks after their final dose before interacting with other fully vaccinated persons in small settings.

“This is good news, but we have to be careful,” Stack said. “A real concern most public health officials have is that people might misinterpret this as not having to practice mask wearing and social distancing. If we do that, we run the risk of supercharging the pandemic when we should be near the end of the pandemic.”

The CDC stated that people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 should continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing when in public. Additionally, fully vaccinated people should wear masks and practice physical distancing when they meet privately with an unvaccinated person who is at a high risk for contracting severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Stack believes Kentucky can contain the spread of COVID-19 before the new COVID-19 variants become dominant strains.

“If we get everyone vaccinated as quickly as we can and if people wear their masks and socially distance whenever they’re out in public, we can stay ahead of this virus,” Stack said. 

During a question and answer session with local journalists, Beshear declared his support for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that was passed by Congress over the weekend. Beshear said the bill could equip Kentucky with the resources needed to improve broadband internet access and sewage and wastewater systems.

Beshear said the federal minimum wage needs to be raised, but lawmakers should not target a specific amount.

“I believe that your total compensation is wages plus benefits,” Beshear said. “If we raise the minimum wage to a certain level, but people aren’t getting health benefits for instance, then their total compensation isn’t what they need to survive.”

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