LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — We were warned. Since the minute we digested our Thanksgiving dinner, health experts told us not to gather in large groups for Christmas. Now the city of Lexington is seeing the inevitable, with more than 500 new cases confirmed over the weekend. But the rise in COVID-19 positivity rates and cases is not exclusive to holiday parties.
"Cases from the Federal Medical Center are causing an increase," said Kevin Hall with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. "We're also seeing a backlog of some of the reporting due to the holidays. So when you look at the numbers from over the weekend, no one thing, but many things are causing that increase."
Three weeks after the vaccine rollout in Kentucky, it's also worth noting that we're behind many neighboring states when it comes to administering vaccines. Currently, Kentucky has inoculated more than 34,000 people, while Tennessee, for example, is up to nearly 129,000.
"If you're following the federal and state guidelines, that health care workers are in group 1-A, we have 20 to 22,000 people who qualify," Hall said. "That's more than several Kentucky counties have as their entire population."
The moral of that story is that it'll take a while for the vaccine to begin trickling down to everyone else here. But Hall said talks are underway to start the process on the next group of high-risk individuals, those over the age of 70 who don't live in long-term care facilities.
Those who do work there have worked on the front line for ten months with barely any self-defense. And for those who have family members residing in one of those facilities, the vaccine feels like a new lease on life.
"We haven't been able to be in touch, physically, with our loved ones since March, so that's many, many, months," said Barbara Nevius, from outside Lexington's Sayre Christian Village health care center. Her mother received her vaccination there last week.
Vickie Joseph, who heads up unit 1 at Sayre Christian, feels quite a bit of relief after being vaccinated.
"In health care, you limit yourself a lot," she said of her outside activities. "Because you don't want to bring it home to your family, and you don't want to bring it to your (work) family."
Vickie's son has asthma, so before being vaccinated, she's had to be extremely careful around him.
But she isn't 100% out of the woods, and neither is her son because we don't have nearly enough people vaccinated, and we likely won't for some time.
"It's going to take a while to work through that 1-A (vaccine group), and we ask people to be patient as we do that," Hall said.