Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky’s first regional vaccination site through Kroger will open next week, but vaccine availability will be more limited than previously expected.
The first site will launch Feb. 2 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Fayette County. Appointments will be open to people in phases 1a and 1b, and Beshear has asked the site to prioritize people age 70 and older.
When the regional vaccination partnership with Kroger was first announced on Jan. 14, Beshear said it would be open to all Kentuckians in phase 1, including phase 1c. The governor blamed the change on recent increases in demand and limited supplies of vaccine doses.
“The very largest portion of every demographic now wants it, and wants it as quickly as possible,” Beshear said. “That is a good thing overall to get to immunity. But it’s a challenge as we get there.”
Three other regional sites that aren’t affiliated with Kroger are also opening at McDowell Hospital in Danville and Western Baptist and Lourdes Mercy in Paducah. Beshear said more regional sites will be announced over the next two weeks.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the state’s program to vaccinate K-12 educators will end after next week, at which point more vaccines will become available for regional sites.
“When that program concludes, we’re able to swing even more robustly into expanding this network and increasing opportunities for those who are 70 and others in phase 1b, then eventually to the larger population,” he said.
The state also launched a new vaccination website and hotline on Thursday. Information on vaccine eligibility and appointments can be found at vaccine.ky.gov or by calling 855-598-2246 (TTY 855-326-4654).
Regional sites are authorized to vaccinate people in phase 1c if any doses are left over. Earlier this week, Beshear announced that the federal government will increase Kentucky’s vaccine supply by around 17%. That bump helps, but more doses are needed before the state can move to 1c.
“Given that so much of 1a and now 1b wants to get the vaccination and we’re vaccinating so quickly, we just need a little bit more time,” Beshear said.
New Record Daily Death Total
Beshear reported 2,947 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest total for a Thursday in four weeks.
Hospitalizations, ICU occupancy and ventilator usage all dropped. Despite improvements in some areas, the governor announced 69 new deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, a new record.
“Our trends are going in the right way, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “But the result of so many cases and of our exponential growth – times where we were having 5,000 cases in a day – is we are seeing the significant loss that creates.”
The COVID-19 test positivity rate was 9.04%. It was the fourth day in a row the rate stayed below 10%.