Governor urges young Kentuckians to get COVID-19 vaccine

Published 9:17 pm Monday, April 19, 2021

Kentucky has surpassed another COVID-19 vaccination milestone, but the pace needs to pick up among younger adults to defeat the coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

More than half of Kentuckians who are 18 and older have received at least a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the governor said. While about three-fourths of Kentuckians 70 and older have been vaccinated, the rate drops off considerably among people ages 20-49, he said.

“So we need to pick it up for our younger Kentuckians if we want to lessen the number of cases and ultimately defeat this virus,” Beshear said at a news conference.

Last week, Beshear pledged to lift capacity and physical distancing restrictions for nearly all businesses, venues and events catering to 1,000 or fewer patrons once 2.5 million Kentuckians receive at least their first COVID-19 shot. He also would remove curfews on bars and restaurants.

More than 1.6 million Kentuckians have received at least their first COVID-19 shot, surpassing more than half the state’s population 18 and older, Beshear said Monday.

“That is a big milestone,” the governor said. “It’s one we ought to be excited about. But we also know that we have a lot further to go.”

The state still has about 400,000 vaccine doses available even before getting its next shipment of at least 150,000 doses, he said. Anyone 16 or older is eligible to be vaccinated in Kentucky.

Kentucky reported 231 new coronavirus cases Monday, including 168 people ages 49 and younger, Beshear said. Kentucky had more COVID-19 cases last week than in the prior week, he said.

“We will have a fourth wave of this virus unless we get everybody out and get vaccinated and we continue to engage in safe practices until that happens,” the governor said.

Those practices include mask wearing and social distancing.

The state reported nine more virus-related deaths — five of which were discovered through the state’s audit of deaths from prior months to get a more comprehensive count of the death toll. Total virus-related deaths have surpassed 6,340 since the pandemic began.

More than 400 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including 121 in intensive care units. The state’s rate of positive cases was 3.46%.

Meanwhile, with school graduations approaching, the state adjusted capacity restrictions in larger venues. Venues and event spaces with more than 1,000 people can operate at 50% capacity, while places and events serving fewer than 1,000 people at a time can operate at 60% capacity.