Governor celebrates first vaccines in Kentucky, shares eviction relief, school guidance updates

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2020) – On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear celebrated that COVID-19 vaccinations have begun in the commonwealth.

The Governor watched as five doctors and nurses from UofL Health first received the vaccine. Soon after, other health care workers from UofL Health, Baptist Health Lexington and the Medical Center at Bowling Green began receiving inoculations.

“Today is the most exciting day that I’ve had, I think that we as a commonwealth have had, since March 6, when we had our first diagnosed COVID case,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today marks the beginning of the end of COVID-19. We are going to defeat this virus in 2021. This is a moment that we have hoped for and prayed for. The effectiveness of this Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine that’s going to follow is nothing short of a modern medical miracle.”

Seven Kentucky hospitals are expected to receive vaccine shipments Tuesday: Baptist Health Corbin, Baptist Health Louisville, Baptist Health Madisonville, Norton Hospital, Pikeville Medical Center, St. Elizabeth Healthcare Edgewood and University of Kentucky Medical Center.

“We know the vaccine is vitally important to getting back to normal, and we are thankful to be a part of this effort to eradicate COVID-19,” said Baptist Health Corbin President Anthony Powers. “We stand ready to play a key role in this crucial initiative as we begin vaccinating our front-line health workers and our community as more supplies of vaccine become available over the next several months.”

“At Baptist Health Louisville, we are grateful for the opportunity to offer this vaccine to our front-line employees, who are caring for our most vulnerable patients. They have been there for our community, and now we want to be there for them,” said Baptist Health Louisville President Larry Gray. “We eagerly look forward to the day that the vaccine is more readily available to provide needed protection for all of our families and neighbors.”

“Baptist Health Madisonville has been working tirelessly to care for our community throughout COVID-19,” said Baptist Health Madisonville President Robert Ramey. “We are excited and grateful to be chosen as one of the first locations in the commonwealth to have the opportunity to vaccinate our health care heroes to help stop the spread and devastation caused by this virus.”

“We appreciate Gov. Beshear for prioritizing health care workers. After months of being on the front line of this pandemic, we are ready for the promise of a vaccine,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO, Norton Healthcare. “We are eager to receive our first shipment of the vaccine and are committed to being responsible stewards of this process.”

The Governor also announced that the state’s $15 million Eviction Relief Fund has spent $12.3 million since the application opened Sept. 8 to help 3,254 households stay healthy in their homes.

“We’ve also spent over $1 million of Team Kentucky Fund dollars to pay for rent in 2021 – that helps 1,752 households,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today at 5:30 p.m. EST we will reopen applications for the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund, and it will stay open until all funds are exhausted, which we think could be between 24 and 48 hours. This reopening will be for past due rent for March through December 2020 only, not future rent. We estimate about $1.4 million will be available.”

When CARES Act funding is exhausted, the applications will again close. Kentuckians can apply here.

Finally, the Governor announced new public health guidance for Kentucky schools. He said there would be no change in the way the incidence rate will be calculated for each county; instead, the recommendations and requirements for each color-coded zone from the Kentucky Department for Public Health are changing in the following ways:

  1. Adjustments of red/orange county recommendations.
  2. Every school must provide a meaningful virtual option that cannot negatively impact virtual students’ GPA, class rank or any other educational opportunity or recognition.
  3. Schools must accommodate all educators and employees who fall into a high-risk category with a virtual option.
  4. Healthy at School guidelines will be mandatory starting on Jan. 4, 2021.
  5. KDPH recommends returning to in-person learning no sooner than Jan. 11, 2021.
  6. Continue daily reporting.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, Gov. Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

  • New cases Monday: 1,802
  • New deaths Monday: 17
  • Positivity rate: 8.58%
  • Total deaths: 2,224
  • Currently hospitalized: 1,712
  • Currently in ICU: 441
  • Currently on ventilator: 243

Top counties with the most positive cases Monday  are: Jefferson, Fayette, Boone and Warren. Each of these counties reported 50 or more new cases; Jefferson County alone reported 346.

Locally, every county served by the Barren River District Health Department reported increases in COVID cases with the exception of Metcalfe County. Warren County recorded 137 new cases, Barren County 20, Logan County 41, Butler County 13, Allen County 24, Simpson County 36, Hart County 19 and Edmonson County 13.

The new red zone counties for this week can be found here. Community leaders, businesses, schools and families in these counties should all follow red zone reduction recommendations, as well as other orders and guidance.

Those reported lost to the virus Monday include a 74-year-old man from Bath County; a 92-year-old woman from Calloway County; a 92-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man from Fayette County; a 61-year-old woman and two men, ages 69 and 83, from Hopkins County; two women, ages 37 and 74, and a 77-year-old man from Jefferson County; a 77-year-old woman from Jessamine County; a 67-year-old man from Lawrence County; two men, ages 55 and 59, from Oldham County; and three women, ages 66, 83 and 84, from Washington County.

The Governor said different Kentucky regions have between 53% and 73% of hospital beds already in use; in addition, Kentucky regions have between 51% and 94% of ICU beds already filled.