FRANKFORT, Ky. – COVID-19 cases have declined for six straight weeks in the commonwealth, Gov. Andy Beshear reported Monday. He also announced the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since Oct. 5.
“The trends are going in a positive direction, perhaps the most positive since the pandemic began,” Beshear said. “What that means is that we’re doing a good job. Do I think that vaccines are starting to have an impact? Certainly in the long-term care community. Hopefully we’ll see more of it in the overall state. But we’re seeing more people wearing masks, engaging in social distancing, thinking about the number of contacts they have in their day, and it is working.”
The governor announced that regional vaccination sites will open to Kentuckians in Phase 1C beginning March 1, and he expects other vaccination sites to move into Phase 1C around the same time.
Beshear encouraged all vaccine sites to continue prioritizing Phase 1A and 1B individuals, even as 1C appointments are made as well. He asked all providers to continue outreach to vulnerable Kentuckians who may have a harder time navigating the vaccine sign-up system.
More than 583,000 Kentuckians have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, updated Kentuckians on the federal pharmacy program for COVID-19 vaccines.
“The good news is, we have wildly expanded our vaccine provider network in a very short time frame,” Stack said. “As of today, we have 47 independent pharmacies and 77 Walgreens pharmacies across the state participating in this program to help get vaccines to Kentuckians right in their local communities. We are going to continue to move progressively faster, getting closer and closer to where you live.”
Finally, the governor highlighted a tragic milestone in the nation’s war against COVID-19.
“This country has now lost more than 500,000 Americans to the coronavirus. It is an almost unimaginable loss. While we have good news about the direction things are going, we’re going to emerge from this with a lot of scars inside and out,” said Gov. Beshear. “Let’s all remember that we’ve got to love one another and be patient with one another through that. While I hope that we are months away from the end of this virus, it’s going to take a little longer to process our collective grief.”
As of 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:
New cases Monday: 530
New deaths Monday: 13
Positivity rate: 6.6%
Total deaths: 4,460
Currently hospitalized: 870
Currently in ICU: 243
Currently on ventilator: 119
Top counties with the most positive cases Monday are: Jefferson, Fayette, Oldham, Campbell and Kenton. Each county reported at least 20 new cases. Jefferson County reported 95.
To see a list of those reported lost to the virus today, click here.
$40 million in federal emergency relief funding to non-public schools
Beshear has authorized the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to administer $40,817,799 in emergency assistance to non-public schools for reimbursement of COVID-19 related costs or to provide COVID-19 related services.
The U.S. Department of Education has allocated this funding to Kentucky for emergency assistance that must be directed to non-public schools. All non-public schools may apply to the state for reimbursement or for services through the recently authorized Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. More information will be available soon on the KDE website.
$4.6 Million in grants expand treatment and recovery services for opioid use disorders
Today, First Lady Britainy Beshear and the governor, along with the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) and the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, announced that a total of $4,645,070 has been awarded to 12 nonprofit organizations throughout the commonwealth. The total grant funding has been distributed among Community Mental Health Centers and Neonatal Abstinence Treatment Programs from the Senate Bill 192 Treatment Grant which is administered by ODCP.
The grant awards are primarily focused on addressing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome by offering comprehensive residential treatment services to pregnant and parenting women. To learn more, see the full release.
Virginia Moore Access Award
First Lady Beshear also announced a special recognition for Team Kentucky’s primary American Sign Language interpreter, Virginia Moore, who is executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
“Our very own Virginia Moore has been honored for demonstrating her dedication to advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing community in Kentucky,” said First Lady Beshear. “The award, properly named the Virginia Moore Access Award, is presented by the Kentucky Educators for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing here in Kentucky.”