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Beshear warns Ky. could be moving toward fourth wave of COVID-19

Gov. Andy Beshear said that looking at some of the trends, a fourth wave of COVID-19 in Kentucky is possible, similar to what is being experienced in some other states.

During a Capitol press briefing on Thursday, he pointed to several factors that are on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic.  They include an increase in new cases and that the positivity rate continues to creep upward.

“It is at least a warning that a fourth wave is possible here,” Beshear said.  “We can prevent it, we should prevent it.  It requires people to get vaccinated and continue to mask up.”

A total of 834 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to state public health officials, which is 52 more than on Thursday.  Of them, 116 are among those who are 18 years of age and younger.

“It’s impacting more younger Americans and Kentuckians than ever before,” the governor said.  “OF that group, 47 are ages 16 to 18, and are eligible to be vaccinated.  If you are 16 to 18, this virus is affecting people your age.  And, we are seeing more hospitalizations nationwide to that under 50 group that we previously didn’t see hospitalized nearly as much.”

This raises Kentucky’s overall count of positive cases since the first one was reported on March 6, 2020, to 435,743.

The 10 counties with the highest number of new cases were: Jefferson with 149, Fayette 54, Warren 49, Daviess 33, Henderson 29, Boone 24, Kenton 20, Harlan 18, Christian 17, and McCracken 16.

Seventeen new deaths were reported from local health departments, with none from the ongoing audit of death certificates issued since last fall.  The ages and locations of the victims were not available.  Kentucky’s pandemic total number of deaths now stands at 6,302.

Kentucky’s positivity rate rose to 3.45% on Thursday, based on a seven-day rolling average.  That marks seven straight days of increases.

A total of 416 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized.  Of them, 102 are in the ICU, and 49 on a ventilator.  Those numbers are slightly lower than the ones from Wednesday.

Amy Cubbage, the governor’s general counsel, said there were no problems reported on Thursday, which was the first day since 2017, that 13 regional career centers opened for in-person appointments with those seeking help with their unemployment claims.  They plan to serve 4,500 claimants between now and April 30.

While use of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains paused, due to a rare blood clotting condition that has appeared in six women of 6.8 million vaccinated, Moderna and Pfizer, which both require two doses, are continuing to supply Kentucky with vaccines.

There is even talk that the two vaccines may require annual boosters, much like an annual flu shot.  The governor addressed that on Thursday.

“Pfizer’s CEO talked about the potential need for a booster, somewhere between six months and 12 months, but I think the truth is we don’t know,” Beshear said.  “The first people who were vaccinated didn’t get it that long ago, but I really like that they want to be prepared.”

He added, “One positive thing is that the system is built, and the system that we built was the first to get a whole lot of people through, and then get it out through normal channels.  By the time we’re done with our first rounds of vaccinations, we hope that everywhere you normally go will have the ability to vaccinate.  In other words, if you need a booster in the future, we ought to be set up for your grocery, your pharmacy, your doctor’s office, any number of other options.”

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

The governor’s next scheduled live press briefing on COVID-19 will be Monday afternoon at 4, but his office is expected to issue daily reports on COVID-19 numbers throughout the weekend.