As state’s vaccination rate slows, Beshear again pleads with Kentuckians to get vaccine

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Alex Acquisto
·3 min read
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As the rate of vaccinations slows across Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear reiterated his plea for Kentuckians to get vaccinated, as he announced 231 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and nine virus-related deaths.

The positivity rate is 3.46%.

Seventy-three percent of Monday’s cases are in people under the age of 49 — a prevalence that’s not surprising, since younger people across the commonwealth currently represent some of the lowest vaccination rates, Beshear said.

“Let’s be clear: we will have a fourth wave of this virus unless we get everyone out and get vaccinated,” the governor said in a live update. “As long as there’s a significant group of unvaccinated individuals, there are hosts for this thing to mutate in.”

While more than 37% of the state population — 1,665,196 people — have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, the overall interest in getting inoculated against COVID-19 is waning. When vaccine demand was high earlier this year, Beshear urged places injecting vaccine into people’s arms to use at least 90% within seven days of receipt. The last two weeks, the state has utilized less than 50% of its weekly allocation.

There are more than 400,000 doses currently available statewide that have yet to be claimed, Beshear said. Starting Tuesday, another 150,000 doses are slated to arrive in Kentucky.

Kentuckians between the ages of 20 and 39 have the lowest vaccination rate (38% and less) though they make up nearly half of all COVID-19 infections, Beshear said. In older residents over the age of 70, 74% have been vaccinated, while 46% of people ages 60 to 69 have received their vaccine.

Kentuckians in their 20s and 30s have been among the age groups with the highest rates of virus throughout the pandemic. But as older Kentuckians have gotten vaccinated, cases among people older than 60 have sharply dropped, causing younger people to make up a higher proportion of the state’s cases.

As the state’s challenge has turned to vaccinating younger people — who have often faced less severe cases of the virus — Beshear has emphasized reports of higher hospitalizations among younger people in states where the virus is surging, like Michigan.

At least 179 cases of more contagious COVID-19 variants have been confirmed statewide. A total of 6,347 people have died from the virus and 437,543 have been infected. Statewide, 402 people are hospitalized with coronavirus, while 121 are in intensive care and 43 are on a ventilator.

As Beshear continues to push for the vaccination of at least 2.5 million people before businesses are allowed to drop many of their coronavirus restrictions, the state adjusted its capacity restrictions on Tuesday for larger event spaces. Venues and event spaces serving fewer than 1,000 people at a time are allowed to open at 60% capacity, and on Tuesday, formal gatherings of more than 1,000 people were given the green light to operate at 50% capacity, Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said.

“It’s significant as [school] graduation season is upon us,” Stack said. “That guidance is effective today.”