FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Governor Andy Beshear said Kentucky's on track for a fourth consecutive week of increasing COVID-19 cases.
"Folks, we are sounding the alarm," said Beshear during his Team Kentucky update on Thursday. "And all the information is out there. Please, go get your shot."
On Tuesday, Kentucky saw 1,054 new coronavirus cases - the highest number the state has seen since March 11th. On Wednesday, 963 additional cases were reported, and on Thursday, 933 more were reported.
Beshear said this is the Delta variant at work.
"Let's be clear about the Delta variant - it is the most aggressive form of COVID that we have seen," said Beshear. "If you are unvaccinated, it is the deadliest form of COVID that we have seen."
Kentucky's data shows that the coronavirus is spreading mostly among the unvaccinated. From March 1st until July 21st, the unvaccinated accounted for 95.4% of all covid cases, 91.7% of covid hospitalizations, and 88.8% of covid deaths in Kentucky. During that same time frame, the fully vaccinated accounted for 4.6% of covid cases, 8.3% of covid hospitalizations, and 11.2% of covid deaths in Kentucky.
Kentucky's Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Steven Stack, said this is proof that the COVID-19 vaccines are doing their job and offering protection to most people.
The governor said most of Kentucky's covid cases are happening in people under 50. Those populations have weaker vaccination rates. For example, while 83% of Kentuckians 65 and older have been vaccinated, only 36% of Kentuckians 18 to 29 years old have gotten the shot.
"Just over a third of 18 to 29-year-olds - one-third in Kentucky - are vaccinated," said Beshear. "We need you to go out and get that shot."
Dr. Stack said as of July 22nd, ten counties are in the red zone. Those counties are:
- Whitley County
- Laurel County
- Clay County
- Lewis County
- Washington County
- Hart County
- Hancock County
- Muhlenberg County
- Hopkins County
- Webster County
Stack said at the beginning of the month, no counties were at that stage. So, on Thursday, the Beshear administration issued red zone reduction recommendations. The recommendations are:
- Increase vaccination efforts to reach unvaccinated persons
- Encourage masking as an effective way to reduce spread
- Encourage physical distancing and maximize usage of outdoor spaces for gatherings
- Encourage medically vulnerable persons to avoid social activities with unvaccinated persons
- Consider postponing large public events
- Engage community partners and stakeholders to implement a strong communication plan
Beshear says as of now, nothing is being mandated. But he's not afraid to take that step if needed.
"If I think we have to take steps to save lives, we're going to do them."