coronavirus

Lisa Autry

While bourbon may have put Bardstown on the map, the rural Kentucky town is helping bring to market the most coveted vaccine in modern history.  Kentucky Pediatric\Adult Research, or KPAR, is one of 150 sites worldwide and the only in the state conducting human clinical trials on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Bardstown facility had a hand in getting the vaccine approved for adults, as well as 16 and 17-year-olds.  Now, KPAR is studying the vaccine in children ages 12-15.  Isabella Stiles was 15 when she began participating in the trials.  The student at Thomas Nelson High School has mostly kept her contribution to science under wraps.

"A few know, but not many," Stiles told WKU Public Radio. "Some people are interested and want to know what it’s all about, but some people are like, 'Why would you do this?'"

She did it because testing the vaccine is a family affair.  Her parents and older siblings went first in the adult trials at KPAR.  Isabella’s father, Dr. Matthew Stiles, practices family medicine in Bardstown. 


Blake Farmer | WPLN

Tennessee will not be banning employers from requiring workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ultimately, the interests of “corporate freedom” are winning out against “individual liberty,” as one lawmaker put it.

On Wednesday, Rep. Rusty Grills, R-Newbern, spiked his own legislation (HB1147), which would have made it illegal in Tennessee to require employees to take the COVID vaccine.

Already under federal law, no employer — even hospitals — can force workers to get the vaccine because it’s only been given “Emergency Use Authorization” by the Food and Drug Administration. But the vaccines will likely receive full approval in the next few years. At that point, employers could make vaccination a requirement to keep a job.

Somerset Community College

Student Ambassadors at Somerset Community College have been serving in a unique COVID-19 era project –one aimed at helping a group of people that might get overlooked during the vaccination effort.  

Getting an appointment for COVID-19 vaccinations can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience. If the person trying to get an appointment is a caregiver for someone nearing the end of their life, that tension can be multiplied many times over.

Melissa Winstead is coordinator for the Student Ambassador program at Somerset Community College. She said the ambassadors got a request for help from Robin Tarter, vice president of the board of Hospice of Lake Cumberland.

“She was interested in scheduling COVID vaccine appointments for caregivers and was having a hard time doing that," said Winstead. "You know finding a location that had the vaccine available. And also when she called they were on hold for a really long time."


Denise McDonald

The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many elderly Kentucky residents from getting meals at senior centers, or picking up nutritious items at food banks.

A south-central Kentucky benevolent organization is delivering food to seniors who can’t get out.

Logan County Good Samaritan has ongoing programs to provide food and assistance with utility bills to county residents. 

But for the past year, since COVID-19 has kept many elderly residents isolated, Good Samaritan has been delivering what's known as "senior boxes" to those 60 and older who haven’t been able to come pick up the food.

Nathan French

Nathan French signed up for a COVID-19 vaccination and is waiting for an appointment. The 22-year-old Transylvania University senior has had COVID-19 twice. 

“The first time it was asymptomatic, and I was thankful,” French said. “But the second time, I was stricken with lung issues, and it felt like my heart rate was faster than normal. I was horrified for my safety because I just didn’t know what was going to happen to me.”

French has a developmental disability, a form of the neuromuscular disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which affects his diaphragm and his nerves. French also has a heart condition. 

  

Ryan Van Velzer

 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state is monitoring about a dozen people who’ve travelled to countries with outbreaks of Ebola.

Beshear made the announcement during his coronavirus briefing Tuesday. Eleven people in Kentucky have traveled to either the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Guinea — both countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks. Beshear said health departments have been in contact with the travelers.

“And they assess their exposure risk, they educate them about what symptoms they might have, and they quarantine those at high risk for 21 days, though we have not had a single person in Kentucky that is at high risk,” Beshear said.

  

Lisa Autry

Kentucky hit a major milestone on Monday when the one-millionth vaccine was administered during a ceremony at the state Capitol.  With an increasing supply of the vaccine, the state has ramped up immunizations with a goal of vaccinating every Kentuckian by the summer.  In communities with large international populations like Bowling Green, part of the challenge is getting refugees and immigrants to roll up their sleeves. 

Understanding COVID-19 and the vaccine has been a bit of a learning curve for all of us, but what if you were new to the U.S. and not a native English speaker?  That’s the scenario for thousands of refugees living in Bowling Green.  Albert Mbanfu heads the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky.  He says groups like his are working to combat a lack of knowledge and false information about the vaccine.


Facebook/Warren County Regional Jail

When the first coronavirus cases were reported last year, Warren County, Kentucky, Jailer Stephen Harmon knew there was going to be a COVID-19 outbreak in his jail. It was just a matter of when.  

“We tried our best to keep it from happening,” he said. “However with this many people in a fairly small spot, we knew that that was going to happen at some point so we responded to it as best we could.” 

New cleaning regimens and masks helped the jail prevent an outbreak until December, when Harmon’s prediction came true. More than 300 inmates and about 45 staffers tested positive before the outbreak was contained. 

 

  

Thinkstock

Republican lawmakers released a state budget bill over the weekend that would make sure the legislature, and not Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, has final authority in deciding how federal coronavirus relief money gets spent.

Kentucky will receive about $2.4 billion from the recently-passed relief package. That money can be used for a wide range of needs like testing and vaccination programs, relief for businesses and individuals, infrastructure investment and “premium pay” for essential workers — an additional $13 per hour.

But under the Kentucky budget bill quietly filed over the weekend, Beshear wouldn’t be able to use that money unless the legislature authorized him to do so.

J. Tyler Franklin

Republican lawmakers advanced another bill that seeks to limit Gov. Andy Beshear’s emergency powers related to the coronavirus pandemic, late during this year’s legislative session. The measure would also try to thwart court rulings that have upheld the governor’s emergency powers.

House Bill 217 would alter the state’s emergency laws, removing all specific examples of disasters that the state’s emergency management program should respond to — ranging from ice storms to nuclear attacks.

Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge and the bill’s sponsor,  said removing that language would undercut last year’s Kentucky Supreme Court ruling against a challenge to Beshear’s emergency powers.

Updated March 11, 2021 at 9:34 PM ET

President Biden is aiming for the country to begin to find a degree of normalcy and begin to move on from the coronavirus pandemic by the July Fourth holiday, Biden announced in his first prime-time address Thursday night from the White House on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.

Lisa Autry

At the age of 107, Marguerite Carter played the piano in her Allen County home earlier this month. That alone is pretty amazing, but try living through two "once-in-a-lifetime" pandemics. 

Carter has done just that. 

Margy, as her family calls her, lives in a two-story log house on a 60-acre horse farm in Allen County.  Her son and daughter-in-law also live on the property.  Earlier this month, the family invited me to the place Margy has called home for the past 40 years.

On a sunny and warm March day, Margy and her family were waiting for me on the patio outside her home.  She wore a red sweater, a blue plaid, pleated skirt, and red hat to keep the sun off her face. 

A centuray ago, Margy lived on a farm in Nebraska as a young child during the Spanish Flu of 1918.

"I suppose about six," Carter recalled of her age at the time.

World Coal

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday stronger coronavirus safety guidance intended to keep coal miners safe from COVID-19 in the workplace. However, the Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration stopped short of issuing an emergency standard — as the mine workers’ union had requested — and instead kept to voluntary guidelines.

“This updated guidance provides U.S. mine operators with important recommendations for protecting miners from coronavirus,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Jeannette Galanis said in a statement. 

The guidance includes a hazard assessment of mines, measures to control viral spread, and company policies that do not punish miners who speak up about potential hazards or those who must miss work in order to quarantine.

Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital

Across the Bluegrass State, the number of COVID-19 vaccination sites increases each week, as Kentuckians continue to roll up their sleeves for the shot that promises a return to spending time with family and friends.

A hospital in Somerset has been on the front lines, providing vaccinations to area residents for several months.

Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital is currently giving about 500 first doses of the Moderna vaccine each week, in addition to the allocated second doses.


Updated March 10, 2021 at 3:23 PM ET

House lawmakers Wednesday gave final approval to President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, sending the legislation to his desk for his signature. The White House says Biden plans to sign it on Friday.

"This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation — the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going — a fighting chance," Biden said in a statement Wednesday.

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