Beshear: Enough vaccine on hand for big inroads toward goal

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Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the media following the return of a grand jury investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Gov. Beshear has made a request to the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to release the grand jury transcripts to the public. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky has enough COVID-19 vaccine on hand to make big inroads toward achieving an inoculation benchmark tied to lifting capacity limits at most of its businesses and venues, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

More than 1.6 million Kentuckians have received at least their first dose of vaccine, representing 46% of the state’s population age 16 and older, the governor said. That means the state needs to vaccinate about 870,000 more residents to reach the goal, he said.

Meanwhile, the state has nearly 500,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine on hand and ready to be administered, and more than 150,000 doses are expected to arrive next week, Beshear said.

On Monday, 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.

“Folks, this is right there,” the governor said Thursday, referring to the vaccination goal. “This is ours for the taking. It all depends on us getting out there and getting vaccinated as quickly as we can. The power is ultimately in your hands. So let’s get this done.”

Thousands of appointments are open in the next week or so at a massive drive-through vaccination site at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Beshear said. Large numbers of openings are also available statewide at vaccination centers in Lexington, Bowling Green, Corbin, Christian County, Greenup County, Hardin County and Pike County, he said.

“These things are a miracle,” the governor said of the vaccinations. “Please go out and get them. They work. We can defeat this virus, but you’ve got to get vaccinated to do it.”

Beshear reported the large supplies of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines just two days after Kentucky joined in temporarily halting use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The J&J vaccine rollout was paused as federal health agencies investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots. J&J doses represent a fraction of overall vaccines received by Kentucky.

Anyone 16 or older is eligible to be vaccinated in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Beshear reported 834 new coronavirus cases statewide and 17 more virus-related deaths, raising Kentucky’s death toll past 6,300 since the pandemic began. The number of new COVID-19 cases this week is on pace to surpass last week’s total, he said.

More than 400 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including 102 in intensive care units.

The state’s rate of positive cases continued to rise, reaching 3.45% on Thursday.

“It is at least a warning that a fourth wave is possible here,” Beshear said, adding that another surge can be prevented through vaccinations and mask-wearing.

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