Health

Following eight weeks of declining cases of COVID-19 and increasing vaccinations, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack echoed new federal guidelines saying vaccinated Kentuckians can begin gathering again in small numbers.

Stack issued the advice on the heels of recommendations for vaccinated adults from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In general, adults who have been fully vaccinated can feel at ease gathering in small group settings in private households without masking or social distancing, Stack said.

Kentuckians should still be wary about mixing vaccinated and unvaccinated people and should keep the same protocols — a maximum of two households of eight people wearing masks and distancing —  if the whole group isn’t vaccinated, he said. The new recommendations apply only to adults, since children 16 and under are not eligible for vaccinations.

Regardless of whether residents are vaccinated or not, Stack continued to urge Kentuckians to wear masks and social distance in public until everyone is vaccinated, “Particularly the most vulnerable in society,” he said.

“A real concern I think most public health professionals have is if people misinterpret this as, ‘We don’t have to pay attention to this virus,’” Stack said. “That would be a mistake.”

Kentucky reported 331 new daily cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the lowest since mid-September, and 10 deaths. Hospitalizations continue to decline, as does the positivity rate, which is now at 4.06%.

More than 834,000 Kentuckians have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Beshear said the state will continue to try and meet President Joe Biden’s goal of having a vaccine available for everyone who wants one by the end of May.

Kentucky is not out of the clear, however. Both Stack and Beshear warned that Kentuckians need to continue to mask up and take precautions to prevent another surge of the virus even as more and more Kentuckians are eligible for vaccinations.

Researchers have confirmed two more cases of the more transmissible COVID-19 variant B117 in Fayette and Jefferson counties.

Stack said that it is possible to stay ahead of the variants but residents have to re-commit and see health precautions through to the end.

“We’re so close but we’re not yet passed it, so just hang in a little bit longer,” Stack said. 

 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.