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Kentucky Opens Vaccine Eligibility To 40 And Older

THORNTON, CO - MARCH 06: Prepared doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the newest vaccine approved by the U.S. FDA for emergency use, sit in a box at an event put on by the Thornton Fire Department on March 6, 2021 in Thornton, Colorado. Colorado entered COVID-19 vaccination Phase 1B.3 on Friday, allowing essential grocery and agriculture workers, people over the age of 60 and people with two or more high-risk conditions to receive a vaccine. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
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THORNTON, CO - MARCH 06: Prepared doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the newest vaccine approved by the U.S. FDA for emergency use, sit in a box at an event put on by the Thornton Fire Department on March 6, 2021 in Thornton, Colorado. Colorado entered COVID-19 vaccination Phase 1B.3 on Friday, allowing essential grocery and agriculture workers, people over the age of 60 and people with two or more high-risk conditions to receive a vaccine. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Cases of COVID-19 have declined for 11 straight weeks in Kentucky even as the country as a whole begins to report an increase in cases. 

Kentucky reported 310 new cases, 11 deaths and a positivity rate of 2.89% on Monday. At the same time, nearly 40% of Kentuckians ages 18 and older have now received a vaccination.

Starting Monday, eligibility expanded further. Kentuckians age 40 and older are now eligible to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine in Kentucky.

“If you are 40 and up and you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, I will bet that you can get an appointment in the next week and a half, just think about that,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday. 

But the race to vaccinate people ahead of another surge is still on. The director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday a 10% increase in the seven-day national average.

“I’m going to pause here. I’m going to lose the script.  And I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a White House press briefing. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared.”

Beshear echoed the sentiment that it is too soon for the country to be announcing victory over the virus. He says Kentucky’s mask mandate will stay in place even as other states begin to loosen restrictions. 

Kentucky’s neighbor, Indiana, plans to end its mask mandate next week, while Tennessee never ordered a mandate. 

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says the more transmissible variant, B117, has appeared in at least 15 counties and could become the dominant strain in the state. 

“The vaccines are our exit strategy. The vaccines are our shot of hope that get us out of this mess,” Stack said. 

 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.