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Gov. Beshear calls for more 12-17 year-olds to get vaccinated before the school year begins

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Posted at 6:06 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 18:09:45-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — After eight weeks of decreasing COVID-19 cases in Kentucky, the decline stopped last week. Instead, Kentucky saw a slight increase in cases and the positivity rate, according to Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky's public health commissioner.

"I think those are real increases," said Stack. "I think the positivity rate is going up and the cases are going up."

However, Stack said there's an easy way to protect yourself: get vaccinated.

"The single thing you can do to protect yourselves and protect all of us is to get vaccinated," said Stack. "And we still have about 35 to 40% of the population who we really need to go out and get yourselves safe with vaccination and help keep others safe."

Stack especially encouraged 12-to-17-year-olds to get vaccinated. He said this will be beneficial for the upcoming school year and for sports team getting ready to practice.

“If you have a football team with 50 people on it, think about a high school varsity football team, if 20% are vaccinated and 80% are not, here’s what could happen. If you’re in a locker room with all these kids for more than 15 minutes, and you have one positive case, every single one of those players will count as an exposure, because they’re probably all unmasked and close together. If your team is only 20% vaccinated, that means 40 of the students have to be quarantined, and you can’t field a team with just 10 players. But if the team is 80% vaccinated, only 10 kids have to be quarantined and you still have 40 players,” said Dr. Stack. “Here’s the bottom line for students, parents and coaches: if you want to stay safe and on top of that, play sports, the single best thing you can do is go out and get vaccinated.”

Beshear echoed that sentiment.

"I want my kids to be in school, in the classroom, all of next year," said Beshear.

As of July 8th, 84,915 12-17-year-olds in Kentucky have been vaccinated. Beshear says that's not enough.

As we go back to school, we're going to need to see those numbers increase," said Beshear. "And if we don't, I think you'll see some examples in Kentucky where you'll see schools having to - if there is a critically low percentage of people vaccinated - you may see entire schools that need to shut down for two weeks and go virtual, and none of us want that."

"How much of a class would have to quarantine versus to be in the classroom depends on the levels of vaccinations," said Beshear. "So, parents, if you want to make sure that your kids get that full year of in-person instruction, and don't have to have two weeks here and two weeks there in quarantine - and the schools to also have to go through that as well - please make sure to get your children, if they qualify, vaccinated before the beginning of the year."