Vaccine expanded to anyone 50 and older

Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday announced an expansion of who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine and is extending hours for restaurants and bars.

During a Capitol press briefing, the governor said, “Beginning Monday, we are asking vaccine providers to further open up priority group 1C to all Kentuckians 50 years and older.  Remember, right now, 1C is Kentuckians 60 and older, those who have at-risk conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID as defined by the CDC, essential workers, and some others.  You can begin signing up right now for an appointment on Monday or later.”

In addition, he announced, “We are committed to opening up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years and older by April 12.  That is the latest date we expect to open vaccine eligibility for everybody.”

Due to declining cases and positivity rates, Beshear also said, “We are altering restaurant and bar hours, by extending the curfew, starting on Friday.  At that point, bars and restaurants can serve until midnight, and doors must close by 1 a.m.”

Capacities will remain at 60%, which was expanded from 50% earlier this month, and the seat rule still applies.  “We cannot have people crowding around bars or in restaurants,” he said.  We do have to keep people separated and we do need to keep people wearing masks.  But hopefully, this is a little relief, given the positive movement of where we are right now as a state, with vaccines going up and cases going down.”

A total of 785 new cases of the coronavirus were reported to state public health officials on Thursday, which is a drop from Wednesday’s 963 and Tuesday’s 819.  It brings the total number of positive cases in Kentucky to 419,149.

Jefferson County had the most with 150.  Other top counties included Fayette 48, Simpson 37, Warren 28, Boone 27, Hardin 25, and Madison 21, while Kenton and McCracken each reported 16.

Kentucky’s positivity rate was 3.23% on Thursday based on a seven-day rolling average, which Beshear said was the lowest since July 3, 2020.

The governor said state officials have finished their first audit of deaths from the surge between November and the end of January, with a preliminary addition of 604.  On Thursday, 417 of the 604 were added to the pandemic total, bringing it to 5,504.  The rest will be added to the pandemic total in the coming days.

There were 31 new deaths reported Thursday, with the latest victims ranging in age from 57 to 103.

A dozen of them were in Boone County; two in Campbell and Kenton counties; with one each in Harlan, Henry, Hickman, Hopkins, Jefferson, Larue, Laurel, McCracken, McCreary, Marshall, Ohio, Pike, Pulaski, Shelby, and Trimble counties.

There were 449 Kentuckians hospitalized due to the coronavirus on Thursday.  Of them, 110 were in the ICU, and 57 on a ventilator.  The first two numbers were slight increases from Wednesday, the last one a slight decrease.

To see the full daily COVID-19 report for Kentucky, which includes such information as the red zone counties and red zone recommendations, testing locations, vaccine information, the weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky, executive orders, and other information on the state’s pandemic response, go to kycovid19.ky.gov.

This was Gov. Beshear’s last scheduled press briefing this week, although his office is expected to release daily numbers throughout the weekend.