On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear said cases and deaths from COVID-19 continue to moderate as more Kentuckians receive the safe and effective vaccines.
“The positivity rate ticked up a little bit, to 3.95%,” the Governor said. “We like to see that below 5%.”
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said the eligibility requirements for receiving a vaccine will change slightly next week based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
“As of March 15, the Kentucky COVID-19 vaccination eligibility phase is 1-C,” Dr. Stack said. “1-C is now expanded to include all persons ages 16 or older with any medical or behavioral health condition or conditions that the CDC reports ‘are’ or ‘might be’ at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness.”
He noted that smoking is not among the covered conditions in Kentucky. Dr. Stack said vaccination sites should continue to prioritize people 60 and older, and all sites are still urged to use at least 90% of all vaccine doses within seven days of arrival.
Nursing home visits
Adam Mather, inspector general for the Cabinet of Health and Family Services (CHFS), provided new information about visitation at nursing homes.
“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the collection and use of Civil Money Penalty Funds, has approved a proposal submitted by the Trilogy Foundation for nearly $6,771,000 to enhance the safety of Kentucky residents and the public,” Mather said.
He said the funds will be used to implement a smart entry screening platform with smart badges for all employees across 285 Kentucky Medicare-certified nursing homes. Kentucky will be the first and only state to provide contactless devices and vaccine tracking that will help reduce person-to-person spread of COVID-19, the flu, other viruses and infectious diseases.
“The sensors will be placed at key points of entry to safeguard the 22,450 residents living in these facilities,” Mather said.
In more good news, Mather said beginning Monday, March 15, these facilities will ease restrictions that have been in place for nearly a year, affecting all visitors and non-essential health care personnel.
“Next week, visitation can be conducted more widely. Everyone who enters these facilities will be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and attention will need to be paid to hand hygiene, face coverings, social distancing and other infection-prevention controls.”
More information is available at the CHFS website.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, March 11, Gov. Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:
New cases today: 1,211
New deaths today: 36
Positivity rate: 3.95%
Total deaths: 4,921
Currently hospitalized: 523
Currently in ICU: 136
Currently on ventilator: 75
Kentucky’s COVID-19 Vaccine Website, vaccine.ky.gov, shows Kentuckians which phase they are in specifically. Individuals can sign up for notifications so state officials can communicate with them when doses become available at new and existing sites. Vaccine.ky.gov also lists regional vaccination partners statewide, so Kentuckians can search their county or region and see how to schedule an appointment.
Kentucky’s COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline, 855-598-2246 or TTY 855-326-4654 (for deaf or hard-of-hearing Kentuckians), has the same features as the website. Kentuckians can get assistance completing the vaccine eligibility questionnaire and scheduling an appointment when doses are available. The hotline is available 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.