Beshear wants vaccines available to all Kentuckians

Gov. Andy Beshear visited a Black church in Lexington on Wednesday to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Kentucky’s minority community.

The governor is working with the Lexington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on the issue, and at Shiloh Baptist Church, 10 members of the community voiced confidence in and rolled up their sleeves to receive the Moderna vaccine.

He said it’s important that the lifesaving vaccine be available to all Kentuckians.  “We know communities of color in Kentucky are not equally represented in the 1A and 1B professions.  They are underrepresented in the first waves of folks to be vaccinated.  We acknowledge that is not OK, and we acknowledge there are deep historical causes of vaccine hesitancy that must be admitted, acknowledged and addressed.”

While Blacks make up approximately 8.4% of Kentucky’s population, they only account for about 4.6% of those who have been vaccinated so far, so Beshear joined five local leaders to help overcome hesitancy and distrust.

“I was initially reluctant to take the vaccine because of historical reasons,” said the Rev. Jim Thurman, president of the NAACP Lexington-Fayette County Branch.  “After much prayer, I saw the value of being vaccinated.  COVID-19 was, and still is, hitting the African American community and other communities of people of color, much harder.  We need the vaccine.”

Beshear says he is working with community leaders, health care providers, pharmacies and others to increase the number of vaccination sites.  There are approximately 300 such clinics around the state and growing, with a focus on expanding in every community.

“Equitable distribution is a foundational piece of vaccine distribution,” the governor said. “This administration will continue this outreach, and the Department for Public Health’s Office of Health Equity will continue to be engaged in all aspects of vaccine rollout and help build on our commitment to equity.”

Providing transportation to and from vaccination sites is important, so the Blue Grass Community Action Partnership is offering free transportation to residents within its 11-county service territory, with round-trip transportation from their home to either the Kentucky Horse Park or Ephraim McDowell Hospital.

In addition, the University of Kentucky is offering equity outreach clinics on Saturdays in areas underserved due to race, language, economic and other barriers.

There was mixed news in the daily COVID-19 report from the governor.

The number of new cases fell to 1,306 on Monday, down nearly 200 from Tuesday, but there have now been over 400,000 positive cases in Kentucky, with the latest total at 400,307.

Jefferson was the only county with over 100 new cases, at 173.  The other top ten counties were Fayette 95; Kenton 50; Boone, Scott, and Warren counties each had 37; Bullitt 36; Pulaski 32; Campbell 31; and Daviess 29.

Kentucky’s positivity rate on Wednesday declined for the sixth day in a row.  After peaking at 7.07% on Thursday, it has since dropped to 5.9%, the lowest since Oct. 27.

There was also some tough news as 51 more deaths were reported in Kentucky, the seventh deadliest day of the pandemic and raising the state’s total to 4,527.

The latest victims ranged in age from 44 to 96.  Hardin and Jefferson counties each had six; Madison County five; Warren County four; Boone, Fayette, Floyd, Jessamine, Nelson, and Rowan counties had two apiece; with Campbell, Carter, Estill, Kenton, Lawrence, Lewis, McCracken, Marshall, Meade, Menifee, Mercer, Metcalfe, Montgomery, Muhlenberg, Pulaski, Robertson, Russell and Shelby counties each reporting one.

“This virus is still very serious, still taking so many people around us, and we have to mask up, we have to protect one another.”

The number of Kentuckians hospitalized on Wednesday was 883.  Of them, 228 were in the ICU and 112 on a ventilator.  Each of those numbers was a decline from Tuesday.

To see the full daily COVID-19 report for Kentucky, which includes such information as the red zone counties and red zone recommendations, testing locations, the weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky, executive orders, and other information on the state’s pandemic response, go to kycovid19.ky.gov.

Gov. Beshear’s next scheduled live press briefing on COVID-19 will be Thursday afternoon at 4 and can be viewed on both his Facebook page and YouTube channel.