Kentucky Doctor on COVID-19: ‘It’s Hard to Tell a 40-Year-Old They’re Going to be Dead Within 24 Hours and There’s Nothing We Can Do’
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
Colleague adds: ‘I’ve been in codes not just for people my age, but my kid’s age’
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 16, 2021) – On Thursday during his weekly Team Kentucky update, Gov. Andy Beshear said the state is supporting hospitals in the fight against COVID-19 with expanded personnel and testing assistance, as health care professionals sound the alarm on the delta variant’s threat, even to young Kentuckians.
From March 2020 to May 2021, before the delta variant was dominant in the United States, 74% of COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky were among those 70 and older, and 98% were among those 50 and older. From June 2021 to Sept. 15, 2021, once the delta variant became dominant, the share of younger COVID-19 patients dying increased significantly. During that time, 48% of COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky were among those 70 and older, and 88% were among those 50 and older.
“The No.1 thing that we can do to get through this is to get vaccinated,” said Gov. Beshear. “I think the tough conversations we’re having with those we love who may be hesitant to get the vaccine are making a difference, but we need a lot more of those conversations.”
As of today, Kentucky has 93 total adult ICU beds left. Out of 96 Kentucky hospitals, 66 are experiencing critical staffing shortages.
“Within the last month or so, we’ve been seeing 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds and 50-year-olds come in and within 24 to 48 hours they die,” said Traci Sanchez, MD, King's Daughters Medical Center. “Families are angry. They’re lost. Patients are lost because they know they’re dying. It’s hard to tell someone who is 40 years old that they’re going to be dead within 24 hours and there’s nothing we can do.”
The Governor said more than two dozen hospitals are receiving or soon will receive Kentucky National Guard support. To see a map of all hospitals receiving assistance, click here.
The state is supporting six community testing sites across Kentucky. To see a map, click here.
Nursing students are also supporting more than a dozen hospitals throughout the commonwealth. To see a map of these hospitals, click here.
To see a map that includes Kentucky National Guard, nursing student and testing support, click here.
Three other doctors from King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Ashland and the chief executive at Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana shared the pain and sudden loss they see families go through every day due to COVID-19.
Gov. Beshear: ‘I Am Asking You to Break the Thanksgiving Dinner Rule to Get People Vaccinated’
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfortKY40601
Kentucky third in nation for new daily COVID-19 cases per capita
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 13, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky currently ranks third in the nation for the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases per capita, with a seven-day average of approximately 90 new cases reported per 100,000 people.
“I am asking you to break the Thanksgiving dinner rule and have a tough conversation with those you love and care about who are hesitant to get the vaccine,” said Gov. Beshear. “It won’t be easy. But they are more likely to listen to a friend or family member, and that one conversation could save their life.”
The Governor highlighted a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study that found people who were not fully vaccinated this spring and summer were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19, than those who were fully vaccinated.
“Today, I have 38 COVID patients on my unit. That is every room that we could possibly open and every patient we could possibly take care of,” said Laura Gevedon, RN, shift supervisor for the Pikeville Medical Center COVID unit. “Every patient that we have had say that they regret not getting their COVID-19 vaccine. They wish that they had never listened to anyone who said not to get it. They regret waiting. Get the vaccine and wear a mask.”
She added: “Last week, a man had a BiPAP on and was maxed out on his oxygen, but he was dropping. He told me to take it off and let him die. I told him that he had more fight and we weren’t going to do it. I called his wife and she talked to him convinced him to give it a little while longer. His BiPAP was so loud that his wife couldn’t hear what he was saying, so I asked him what he wanted me to tell her. He wanted me to tell her that he loved her and that he would be on the ventilator by that evening. Two hours later, he was unresponsive so we put him on a ventilator. The next day he passed away. That is my every day.”
“One thing that we have noticed recently is a big influx of COVID-19-positive patients that are younger. The ones that are the sickest are the ones who are unvaccinated,” said Alicia Hume, RN, clinical outcomes specialist at the Medical Center at Bowling Green Emergency Department. “The ones who are vaccinated aren’t getting as sick and typically don’t have to be admitted unless they have some comorbidities or health problems prior to coming in.”
“In addition to helping take care of patients when we have had such a high influx, I also work with our specialty infusion clinic giving the Regeneron antibody infusions. We have seen a lot of success with this, and the folks who are able to get in to get the infusions are all feeling better,” said Melissa Gilpin, BSN, clinical nurse educator at the Medical Center at Bowling Green Emergency Department. “Unfortunately, we just can’t keep up with the demand. We have so many positive patients come in and we don’t have enough time or space to give them this treatment that could be helpful. We are overwhelmed, and our staff is tired. They are wanting to do the best they can for this community. Get your vaccines, wear your mask and stay safe.”
COVID-19 Case Information Update
Gov. Beshear: More Than 300 Additional Guard Members Will Support Strained Hospitals Across Kentucky
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
Governor also recognized nursing students helping health care systems amid COVID-19 surge
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 9, 2021) – On Thursday during his weekly Team Kentucky update, Gov. Andy Beshear said more teams from the Kentucky National Guard will arrive over the next week at strained Kentucky hospitals. Assisting with nonclinical functions within the hospitals to allow hospital staff to focus on patient care, 310 additional Guard members will support 21 hospitals around the commonwealth.
“This shows that every hospital is bursting at the seams, that they desperately need help and that we are a state full of more desperately sick people than we have ever seen,” said Gov. Beshear. “I believe this is the largest deployment of the Guard in this crisis health care situation in our history. Every time we’ve asked, they’ve stepped up and served us so proudly.”
More than 100 Guard members already are assisting at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Hazard, The Medical Center at Bowling Green and Pikeville Medical Center. The additional teams will support:
- T.J. Samson Community Hospital, Glasgow;
- Taylor Regional Hospital, Campbellsville;
- Ohio County Hospital, Hartford;
- Manchester Hospital, Manchester;
- CHI Saint Joseph Health, London;
- Baptist Health Hospital, Corbin;
- Baptist Health Hospital, Elizabethtown;
- Baptist Health Hospital, Lexington;
- Baptist Health Hospital, Louisville;
- Baptist Health Hospital, Paducah;
- Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center, Prestonsburg;
- Tugvalley ARH Regional Medical Center, South Williamson;
- Middlesboro ARH Hospital;
- Harlan ARH Hospital;
- Mercy Health - Lourdes Hospital, Paducah;
- UofL Hospital, Louisville;
- TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital, Bowling Green;
- Rockcastle Regional Hospital, Mount Vernon;
- Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, Somerset;
- Kentucky River Medical Center, Jackson; and
- St. Elizabeth Covington Hospital.
Read more: September 9, 2021 Governor Update
Gov. Beshear Reports Record-High Week for New COVID-19 Cases
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 7, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky has recorded more than 13,000 new COVID-19 cases in just four days. The Governor also reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases in one week, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, with 30,680 cases, topping the previous record-high week reported the week before.
“We continue to see more cases than is safe by any means,” said Gov. Beshear. “The bad news is we had the worst week ever last week. Our hospitals continue to be pushed to the brink. If we have one bad week, we can very quickly run out of ICU beds.”
On Sunday, Gov. Beshear announced the arrival of a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) team at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead to assist the hospital in the current surge of COVID-19 cases. The Governor has also used the Kentucky National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Medical Services strike teams and nursing students to help at strained health care facilities across the commonwealth. For more information, read the full release.
Officials at St. Claire Regional Medical Center discussed via video message the help they’ve received during the current surge of COVID-19 thanks to the requests made by the Governor. Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT) operate under the NDMS as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The assistance of the assignment of the Kentucky National Guard, the request from the Governor for the HHS-DMAT team and the additional assistance from the nurses from the Galen College of Nursing students have been a godsend,” said Donald Lloyd II, president and chief executive officer.
“The DMAT team being here means that we’ve got a little bit of relief this time. I can’t stress how important that is. They’re providing relief to an already tight staff who are just exhausted. The DMAT team is able to take patients and that allows our team to rest a little bit while still working,” said Lerae Wilson, DNP and chief nursing officer.
“We have been overwhelmed for a while. Their arrival has helped us recoup, regroup and get better care. We completely are thankful to them and have great gratitude for their arrival,” said Dr. William Melahn, chief medical officer.
“It means so much to have that additional help. We have been burning at all ends, our staff, our entire team has just been working so hard. It’s just a relief and a little bit of light to have this trained group of people to come in to help us relieve some of that pressure from us,” said Courtney Hollingsworth, MSN, RN and associate chief nursing officer.
Mark Wade, principal of Boyle County High School, also shared his story of battling COVID-19 via video message and encouraged all Kentuckians to get vaccinated.
“I never thought I would be hospitalized. I was just 41 years old with no pre-existing conditions. I was pretty healthy. The virus is no joke. It doesn’t discriminate,” said Wade. “The vaccine was not available before I was hospitalized and became ill with COVID, b
Gov. Beshear Calls Special Legislative Session to Extend COVID-19 State of Emergency
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 4, 2021) – As COVID-19 cases increase at the fastest growth rate of the pandemic, straining Kentucky hospitals, Gov. Andy Beshear on Saturday called lawmakers to Frankfort next week to extend the pandemic state of emergency, which provides administration and public health officials with the tools and measures needed to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
A state of emergency clearly continues in the commonwealth, and following a recent Kentucky Supreme Court ruling, the Governor worked with the General Assembly to assess a call for a special session, which will begin in Frankfort at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.
“This is one of the most dangerous times we’ve experienced this entire pandemic, with the delta variant burning through Kentucky and taking more of our loved ones and neighbors. It’s also overwhelming more and more of our hospitals and shutting down our schools,” the Governor said. “We need as many tools as possible to fight this deadly surge in order to save lives, keep our children in school and keep our economy churning.”
The Governor is asking lawmakers to consider legislation to address several topics including: extending the state of emergency until Jan. 15, 2022; setting forth the criteria regarding the Governor’s authority to require facial coverings in indoor settings in certain circumstances; providing additional flexibility for school districts; and making an appropriation from the American Rescue Plan Act to support mitigation and prevention activities, such as testing and vaccine distribution.
While in Frankfort, the Governor also is asking lawmakers to extend by an additional 30 days a state of emergency declared by the Governor, in response to the flash flooding in Nicholas County and the City of Carlisle, on Aug. 3, 2021. The action is necessary to ensure any emergency services that may be required are provided to residents and businesses, as the commonwealth’s request for federal assistance submitted to President Joe Biden through the Federal Emergency Management Agency remains under review.
The Governor also is asking for additional flexibility for the manner in which incentives can be provided to economic development projects with more than $2 billion in investment, which would constitute the largest in Kentucky’s history. The Cabinet for Economic Development currently is pursuing at least five projects of this size, and the changes would allow Kentucky to be competitive with other states.
More than 7,840 Kentuckians have died from COVID-19 during the last 18 months, with case numbers spiking now because of the delta variant. In the last two days alone, the Governor announced 69 deaths, one of whom was just 27 years old, and more than 10,500 new cases in the commonwealth. We also have record numbers of Kentuckians in the hospital (2,365), in intensive care (661) and on ventilators (425). On Friday, 1,547 of the 5,111 new cases were Kentuckians 18 and younger. The positivity rate Friday was 13.17%. Just two months ago, on July 1, 2021, Kentucky reported only 215 new cases of COVID-19 – 47 of which of were for those age 18 and under – and three deaths, 201 hospitalizations, 55 patients in the ICU, 25 patients on ventilators and a positivity rate of 1.99%.
Kentucky is fast approaching nearly 600,000 COVID-19 cases during the almost 18 months of the pandemic.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the delta variant is nearly twice as contagious as previous COVID-19 variants, and fully vaccinated people with delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others. Further, per the CDC, on Aug. 30 Kentucky had averaged more than 4,000 cases a day in the prior seven days, equaling approximately 28,000 for the week, and the United States had averaged more than 150,000 new cases a day.
The special session call is available here.###
Gov. Beshear: A Record 2,198 Kentuckians Hospitalized With COVID-19
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
More than 2.5 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 30, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear said a record 2,198 Kentuckians are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 56 new COVID-19 deaths were reported in just three days. Gov. Beshear reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases in one week, from Aug. 23 to 29: 29,456.
The Governor thanked Kentuckians who have stepped up to get vaccinated in recent weeks as the delta variant has surged, noting that more than 2.5 million Kentuckians have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We continue to be hit harder and harder with this delta variant. We’re seeing it all across the United States, now reaching a daily average of more than 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time since the winter peak,” said Gov. Beshear. “This isn’t just people getting COVID; it’s them being sick enough to end up in the hospital.”
In August 2020, 11.8% of COVID-19 cases in Kentucky were among children and teens under 18; in August 2021, 24.5% of cases have been. As of Aug. 27, there have been 18,909 COVID cases this month in those under 18 compared to 2,352 in August 2020. At least 18 Kentucky school districts have already had at least one closure due to COVID-19 this school year.
From March 1 to Aug. 25, 90.6% of COVID-19 cases, 90.8% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 87.1% of COVID-19 deaths in the commonwealth have been among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Kentuckians.
Health care heroes and COVID-19 survivors urged their fellow Kentuckians to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the people they love.
“We are all overwhelmed at this time. To share our story at Baptist Health Corbin, this morning when we came in, we had a census of 175, all of our ICU beds, our PCU beds, our telemetry beds, our med surge beds are all full. We have no more capacity in those beds. We’ve made the decision to close our surgery department to allow us some extra space should it be needed and utilize that staff to take care of patients as well,” said Sherrie Mays, MSN, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer for Baptist Health Corbin. “The thing I would like to ask is, please get your vaccination. That’s the one thing you can do for our community. The other thing you can do for our community is pray for our patients, and pray for our staff and our physicians that they can be resilient during this pandemic and that we can get through it as quickly as possible.”
“In March 2020, I was one of the first people to contract COVID. Initially I thought it was just the flu, and I was hoping it was just the flu, but things progressed and I ended up comatose on a ventilator for three weeks,” said Dr. Jeffrey Foxx, who practices family medicine at Baptist Health Lexington. “When I got sick, we only had a few masks to protect us. We had limited PPE. We had limited testing. We had no idea how to treat the disease. We had no vaccines. But things have changed since then. We can mitigate the disease. We can protect ourselves. We can protect our family and friends. We can protect our co-workers. Get the vaccine.”
Gov. Beshear: ‘We are Breaking Our Record for COVID-19 Hospitalizations Every Day’
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
Governor announces record positivity rate; health care leaders say vaccinations are ‘No. 1 priority’
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 26, 2021) – On Thursday during his weekly Team Kentucky update, Gov. Andy Beshear said hospitalizations have increased every day without exception for the past 42 days, from 239 people July 14 to a record 2,074 people Aug. 25. Before the delta variant, Kentucky’s record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations was 1,817 on Dec. 17, 2020.
The Governor highlighted other statistics from July 14: On that day, there were 60 Kentuckians in the ICU for COVID-19; as of yesterday, there were 549. On July 14, there were 25 Kentuckians with COVID-19 on a ventilator; as of yesterday, there were 338. On July 14, the state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 3.81%, and it was down to a low of 1.79% June 24; yesterday, it was 13.16%, a record high in the time since the state has had adequate testing supplies.
“My point with all of these numbers is that we are in uncharted territory. We have been fighting this virus for almost 18 months, but we have never been here before,” said Gov. Beshear. “As horrible as last year’s surge was, we were never in the position where doctors worried they’d need to choose between treating a patient who can’t breathe because of COVID or treating a patient who is bleeding out from a car accident. But that is the strain that our hospitals are under now.”
Kentucky health care heroes said vaccinations are the “No. 1 priority right now.”
“Last year was extremely difficult taking care of patients with COVID. I thought after last year that we had seen the worst of it, especially with the introduction of vaccines. Once we all got vaccinated, I thought that a lot of this would go away. Unfortunately, it’s come back, and it’s come back pretty ugly,” said Mohan Rao, MD, general surgeon at Baptist Health Madisonville. “I’m not going to tell you that getting vaccinated is going to keep you from getting sick 100% of the time. What I am going to say to you is that as somebody who believes in individual liberties, which I do, I’m vaccinated. And I did that for the protection of myself, for the protection of my family and for the protection of my patients.”
“The crisis is real. Our patient volumes are higher than they ever have been in any summertime period in the history of our hospital and our health system. We’re working the problem. Our health care heroes are flexing, they’re adapting and they’re improvising, working with each other to increase capacity, increase throughput and at the same time, maintain the top quality of care we are known for,” said Dr. Dennis Beck, interim chief administrative officer at Deaconess Henderson Hospital. “The most important thing is to encourage vaccination. If you know somebody, if you know people at your church or your schools who still haven’t been vaccinated or are hesitant, help them get informed.”
“It is exhausting to see more and more patients come in who are struggling,” said Courtney Fales, registered nurse at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “We have to work twice as hard. It takes more staff, it takes more bodies to keep these patients stable. It just makes me really want people to get vaccinated because the ones that I see struggling right now are the ones who have not gotten the vaccine.”
Gov. Beshear, Dr. Stack: Third Dose of Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Recommended for Immunocompromised Kentuckians
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
Pediatric COVID-19 hospital admissions in Kentucky reach record high
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 17, 2021) – On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced record pediatric COVID-19 hospital admissions, and Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, announced that a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for immunocompromised Kentuckians at least 28 days after a second dose.
“COVID-19 isn’t just hitting adults. With the delta variant, your kids are at a greater risk than they have been before,” said Gov. Beshear. “In a Southern Indiana school district, 750 students are already in quarantine. Do the right thing: Get vaccinated, mask up in schools and in high-risk indoor settings. Protect our kids.”
Dr. Stack said Kentuckians with the following conditions should consider receiving a third dose:
- Active or recent treatment for cancer/malignancy;
- Solid-organ or hematopoietic stem cell transplants;
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome);
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection; and
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers and other immunosuppressive medications.
“This is for individuals who may not have received adequate protection from their initial primary vaccine series. People with normal immune systems are not advised to receive an additional dose at this time,” said Dr. Stack. “Anyone with questions about their eligibility should talk with their health care provider.”
Individuals who have received a Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are not recommended to receive an additional dose at this time. Third doses can be received by any COVID-19 vaccine provider that stocks the same mRNA vaccine that was used for an individual’s primary series (Pfizer or Moderna).
Kentucky’s Pediatric COVID-19 Admissions Up by More Than 400% in One Month
COVID-19 cases in Kentucky children have increased more than 400% in the last month, from 133 July 16 to 548 Aug. 16.
In addition, as of Aug. 16, Kentucky had 17 pediatric admissions for COVID-19, the state’s highest ever total. The previous highest number was 12 admissions in December 2020.
The United States is reporting record COVID-19 hospitalizations in children. Alabama has reported it only has two ICU beds still available. Mississippi public health officials confirmed another child has died from COVID-19 complications, the state’s fifth pediatric death since March 2020.
Gov. Beshear: Unvaccinated Kentuckians Face Greatest Risk Since Pandemic Began
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
Governor highlights how vaccines will save lives, keep schools open, protect economy
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 12, 2021) – On Thursday during his weekly Team Kentucky update, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky’s economic momentum continues to build as more Kentuckians get vaccinated, fighting the commonwealth’s fastest ever surge of COVID-19 cases.
“The delta variant is the most aggressive, and it looks like it may be the most deadly, form of COVID that we have faced,” said Gov. Beshear. “If you are unvaccinated, you are at the very greatest risk that you have been at since the start of the pandemic. COVID has been the third leading cause of death in the United States over the past year and a half. Right now, it’s putting more pressure than it ever has before on our health care heroes.”
The Governor highlighted a recent warning that Mississippi’s hospital system could fail in 10 days because of an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated residents.
On Aug. 10, Arkansas officials reported there were only eight empty ICU beds in the entire state.
Health care leaders from across Kentucky emphasized the risks of not getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
“Right now, in our hospitals, nurses across the commonwealth are leaving their families to take care of yours,” said Cindy Lucchese, MBA, BSN, RN, chief nurse executive for UofL Physicians at UofL Health in Louisville. “Many think only the elderly and those with underlying health conditions will experience complications from this virus. Well, that’s just not the case. With the emergence of the delta variant, we are seeing younger and healthier people become very sick, and this includes pediatric patients. Some are children under 12, who currently cannot be protected by a vaccine.”
“One of the most important things we have seen with this round of COVID is that the age of admission has significantly decreased. The average age of admission has dropped from 75 to 55, and we have noticed the same with our mortalities,” said Stacy Caudill, M.D., hospitalist and chief medical officer of King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland. “Of our current admissions in the hospital, 94% are unvaccinated and 100% of our ICU patients are unvaccinated.”
“We are seeing the most rapid rise of cases that I have seen since the pandemic started,” said William Melahn, chief medical officer of St. Claire Health Care in Morehead. “We are worn out, but we are not going to give up. If you really want to help us, go get vaccinated. Vaccinations are extraordinarily safe. We have not seen anyone in our hospital with vaccine complications, but we have seen too many patients with COVID that have not been vaccinated.”
Gov. Beshear: To Save Lives, Keep Schools Open and Protect Surging Economy, Masks Required in All Kentucky Schools, Child Care Settings
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
Health care, public health, school and business leaders support Governor’s executive order
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 10, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear said in response to the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant and recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, he will require the following via an executive order:
- All individuals – all teachers, staff, students and visitors – must cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when indoors in all public and private preschool, Head Start, elementary, middle and high schools (preschool through grade 12) in Kentucky, including but not limited to inside of vehicles used for transportation such as school buses, regardless of vaccination status; and
- All staff, visitors and children ages 2 and older who are able to wear a face covering must cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when indoors in all child care settings in Kentucky, regardless of vaccination status.
“We are in the midst of the fastest surge that we have ever seen during COVID right now. This move is supported by medical organizations, local health department leaders, businesses and education leaders. It is also supported by the Kentucky Chamber, representing 3,800 member businesses across the commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “This is a united front of saving lives, keeping our kids in school and keeping our economy and workforce going.”
The order includes a list of exemptions.
The CDC now recommends universal indoor wearing of face coverings for all teachers, staff, students (ages 2 and older) and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC recommends that all people ages 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated should wear a face covering while indoors in child care settings. The CDC also recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a face covering in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
The surge of hospitalizations of children with COVID-19 is causing children’s hospitals to become overwhelmed, with recent CDC data showing an average of 225 children with COVID-19 admitted to U.S. hospitals every day over the past week. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that more than 93,000 children and teenagers were infected with COVID-19 from July 29 to Aug. 5.
While Kentucky has had success in administering at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 2,376,891 people, vaccinations remain unavailable for approximately 661,500 Kentucky children ages 11 and under, and less than 34% of all eligible Kentucky children between ages 12 and 17 have received their first dose of a vaccine.
Health care, public health, school and business leaders across Kentucky echoed support for the Governor’s order.
Gov. Beshear Announces K-12 School Recommendations in Response to COVID-19 Delta Variant
700 Capitol AvenueFrankfort, KY 40601
Masks recommended indoors for all children under 12, unvaccinated Kentuckians 12 and older
FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 26, 2021) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear shared new masking recommendations for K-12 schools in response to the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant.
“Our priority is our kids,” said Gov. Beshear. “How we make decisions has to come from one simple place: What gives us the best chance to have our kids in school the maximum number of days in the midst of a pandemic? That is our North Star.”
The Governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass and Kentucky Board of Education Chair Lu Young.
Gov. Beshear and the state officials agreed Kentucky’s challenge is that the delta variant spreads quickly and aggressively among unvaccinated people of all ages. Without mitigation efforts, they expect the delta variant will spread through unvaccinated classrooms and throughout buildings resulting in large, frequent quarantines of students and staff.
Therefore, the Governor recommended the following:
- School districts should require all unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings;
- School districts should require all students under 12 years of age to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings; and
- School districts wishing to optimize safety and minimize risk of educational and athletic disruption should require all students and all adults to wear a mask while in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
“Those working in and learning in our schools know what to do to keep in-person learning going and to do so safely. We have already definitively proven that,” said Commissioner Glass. “Now as conditions have shifted again with the rise of the delta variant and reinfections, we need to call once again upon your courage, dedication and commitment to keep our schools open for school this fall.”
“I want to thank elected school board officials for consistently rising to the challenges that we’ve faced throughout this pandemic,” said Chair Young. “You have maintained a laser-like focus on the best interests, safety and health of the children in our districts and you’ve proven that we can put these kind of return-to-school guidelines in place successfully.”
K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program
The K-12 School COVID-19 Testing Program is a voluntary program offered by KDPH in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Kentucky K-12 schools to assist in reopening safely for in-person instruction.
“We’ve been given $134 million by the federal government to create a testing program for K-12 schools, public and private, throughout the entire commonwealth,” said Dr. Stack. “I urge everyone who operates a school out there to explore the options and make testing available to keep yourselves safe.”
Superintendents and school administrators can learn more here.
- Testing will be limited to staff and students of Kentucky K-12 public, private and charter schools and includes school district employees and staff (contracted or otherwise), such as bus drivers, maintenance, office staff or as determined by the school administrator.
- The K-12 School COVID-19 Testing Program will operate the entire 2021-22 academic year.
- Participation in the school-based COVID-19 screening testing program is voluntary and at no-cost.
COVID-19 Case Information
Number of people who have received at least one vaccine dose in Kentucky: 2,278,834
Number of unique individuals who have received a vaccine dose in the past day: 17,513
New Cases: 783
Positivity Rate: 7.89%
Current Hospitalizations: 486
Current Intensive Care Admittances: 159
Currently on Ventilators: 71