by Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
With 113 of the state’s 120 counties with an elevated risk from coronavirus on the latest weekly risk map Thursday, it’s no wonder that Gov. Andy Beshear sounded the alarm that “Covid is spreading” and strongly urged the state’s seniors to get booster vaccinations.
Beshear noted at least four times during his weekly press conference that Covid-19 is increasing in Kentucky and said people are getting sick from it, pointing to an ongoing increase in hospitalizations.
“The number one thing you can do to protect yourself — and folks, you do need to protect yourself — is to get vaccinated,” he said.
In particular, he urged those 65 and older to make sure they are fully vaccinated and boosted. Beshear noted that while 97% of this age group has had at least one dose of a vaccine and 86% of them are fully vaccinated, only 60% are boosted.
“Waning immunity is a real thing, ” he said. “The current Covid variant can cause significant harm, especially if you are over 65. So my message today is Kentuckians over 65, if you’re not boosted, go get it as quickly as you can. If you’re eligible for your second booster, go get it as quickly as you can.”
Asked about the low Covid-19 vaccination rates among Kentucky’s school-aged children, especially with school starting in just a few weeks, Beshear said vaccines are readily available across the state for this age group. He urged parents to talk to their pediatricians about getting their children vaccinated if they haven’t already done so
“I want as normal of a school year as we can get,” he said. “Just remember if numbers are up, the more boosted we are, the more likely we are to have the most normal school year possible.”
In addition to all of the established places that offer Covid-19 vaccines, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, along with several health-related organizations, is hosting Covid-19 vaccine and booster clinics at 16 sites across the state in July and August. Click here for a list of locations and dates. You can find the vaccination site closest to you at vaccines.gov.
This week’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention risk map, issued Thursday, has 80 Kentucky counties in orange, indicating a high level of risk and a big increase from the 61 orange counties on last week’s map
Thirty-three counties are yellow, indicating a medium level of risk. Last week, 45 were yellow. The rankings are based on new coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and hospital capacity.
In orange counties, state guidelines call for wearing masks in indoor public spaces, limiting in-person gatherings, limiting the size of gatherings, and social distancing.
People in yellow counties who are immunocompromised, or at high risk for severe illness from the virus, should talk to a health-care provider about whether they need to wear a mask or take other precautions, the CDC says.
The state’s weekly pandemic report, released Monday, showed Kentucky had an average of 1,828 new cases a day last week, 17% more than the week before. The positive-test rate increased to 17.7%, Covid-19 deaths decreased to an average of 7 per day and hospitalizations increased 21%.
Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Kentucky.