A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

COVID roundup: Vaccines in long-term care facilities; Moderna coming this week; 1,988 cases, 15 deaths


Gov. Andy Beshear announced that several long-term care facilities in the Commonwealth began administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

“Again, our goal is to get everyone in long-term care facilities vaccinated by March 1,” said Beshear. “If we do that, we cut off 66 percent of the deaths that we have been experiencing. We also reduce hospitalizations and we free up more health care capacity. That means patients who do come in to the hospital get more attention and access and we improve their health outcomes.”

Ready for the vaccine at Boonespring. (Photos provided by KAHCF)

Boonespring in Boone County was one of the long-term facilities that started vaccinating residents and front-line workers Monday. The Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities and the Kentucky Center for Assisted Living reported that 66% of COVID deaths have been in long-term care facilities, including seven healthcare workers.

“We are delighted to see the first in long-term care get vaccinated against this deadly virus. It has been a long year and a hard-fought battle. We are optimistic for what the future brings,” said Betsey Johnson, president of KAHCF/KCAL.

The Governor highlighted a Washington Post report that, currently, an American dies from COVID-19 every 33 seconds. The report emphasized the virus’ severity across the United States, but recognized Kentucky’s unique success in one aspect of the fight against it: Kentucky is the only state in the nation where fewer intensive care unit beds are in use today than were in use three months ago.

The Governor was joined virtually by Dr. Ashley Montgomery-Yates, Interim Chief Medical Officer for Inpatient Services at UK HealthCare. Dr. Montgomery-Yates is also a physician in the COVID unit and the director of the ICU recovery clinic where she works directly with COVID-19 patients at the University of Kentucky Hospital.

Boonespring resident awaits vaccine.

“This pandemic has affected all of our lives in a myriad of different ways,” said Dr. Montgomery-Yates. “But I’m excited that one of the positive things that has come out of this global crisis is that the scientific community has come together to roll out in a record amount of time – in a way that has been safe and effective – a new and novel vaccine that is going to change the way we see, develop and distribute vaccinations forever.

“I know that there have been some fears about the vaccine, but from the medical community, we see this as an incredibly safe and an incredibly well thought out vaccine. I had a little arm soreness after the COVID-19 vaccine, but honestly, the flu shot caused more soreness for me. We’ve now vaccinated about 2,000 people here at UK. I feel very confident in the safety.

“The workers on the COVID unit are exhausted. This has been a war. But as news of the vaccine has come, there’s a renewed energy, there’s a renewed sense of hope that this is going to end.”

Dr. Montgomery-Yates also talked about how she approaches conversations about the vaccine with her children.

Front-line workers vaccinated at BooneSpring

“Both my children would say they don’t particularly enjoy shots and needles, but they feel privileged to live in a place where they are offered that opportunity to get vaccines like this one. They understand that just like going to the doctor for other things, vaccines help keep them healthy. It’s the same reason that we don’t eat 15 bowls of ice cream for dinner,” said Dr. Montgomery-Yates. “I’ve told them, ‘it’s not horrible, it’s very quick, and it will save your life, the life of your grandmother, your aunt, your classmates – it’s not just about us.’”

Today, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, introduced a new vaccine dashboard on kycovid19.ky.gov where Kentuckians can learn more about the vaccine, its planned distribution stages and progress of its rollout across the state.

Eighty hospitals in Kentucky will receive the Moderna vaccine this week.

“This will show the total number of doses that have been shipped to the state; it will show the total number of Kentuckians who have been vaccinated; and it will show the total number of doses remaining to be deployed,” said Dr. Stack. “These numbers do not include the numbers that go to the long-term care facility immunization, at least not currently. Those get assigned over to CVS and Walgreens and show up in a different tracking methodology.”

Pauline Wise from Landmark in Louisville is 100 years old and was the first resident to be vaccinated there.

Finally, the Governor commented on the new COVID-19 relief bill the federal government is expected to pass tonight. State governments are expected to receive financial assistance for vaccines, contact tracing, testing, schools, transportation, rental assistance, nutrition and child care.

“This bill also includes another round of the paycheck protection program for small businesses. I will say, I don’t think it’s going to be enough for small businesses. I’m certainly looking at additional relief that we can provide here in Kentucky,” said Beshear. “There also appears to be an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are about to fall off.”

Case Information

Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

• New cases today: 1,988
• New deaths today: 15
• Positivity rate: 8.64%
• Total deaths: 2,412
• Currently hospitalized: 1,580
• Currently in ICU: 411
• Currently on ventilator: 231

Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton and Boone. Each of these counties reported 80 or more new cases; Jefferson County alone reported 376.

Fayette County reported 97 new cases.

Those reported lost to the virus today include an 87-year-old man from Bullitt County; a 75-year-old woman and a 74-year-old man from Caldwell County; a 72-year-old woman from Clark County; a 68-year-old man from Fayette County; an 83-year-old woman from Hopkins County; an 82-year-old woman from Jefferson County; a 61-year-old woman from Johnson County; two women, ages 76 and 92, from Livingston County; an 88-year-old woman from Muhlenberg County; a 92-year-old woman from Ohio County; an 87-year-old woman and an 88-year-old man from Owsley County; and a 61-year-old woman from Webster County.


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