Western Kentucky University is reinstating an on-campus mask mandate due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the state.

President Timothy Caboni sent an email to faculty and staff Wednesday afternoon that said everyone on WKU’s campuses will be expected to wear a mask while indoors starting Monday, Aug. 9.

Caboni said that he knows the news will be a disappointment to some, but that he hopes masking will increase the chance for a normal semester in light of the surging number of Delta variant cases of coronavirus.

“WKU’s highest priority has always been the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Caboni said in the email. “Vaccines remain one of the strongest deterrents to viral transmission and serious symptoms or complications. If you have not yet been vaccinated, please schedule an appointment with GGC WKU Health Services by calling (270) 745-2272.”

Corrine Boyer | WEKU

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is encouraging employees and contractors at Kentucky state-run health care facilities to get vaccinated by October 1. But that’s not what a news release said yesterday. 

On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear’s office issued a statement correcting an announcement released Monday that said Cabinet for Health and Family Service employees would be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The cabinet will not require but rather encourage employees to get the shot by Oct. 1st. 

Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander said masking will be required and more testing will be conducted.

Muhlenberg County Health Department

The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is forcing communities across Kentucky, and the U.S., to step up safety precautions once again.

Muhlenburg County is offering COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics this week and throughout the month. 

The brief sense of relief that crossed Kentucky with easy access to COVID-19 vaccinations and the dropping of mask requirements is over.

Tension and worry are back, as the Delta variant of the virus is causing a spike in cases, especially among the unvaccinated.

Louisville Woman Is Second Shot At A Million Winner

Jul 30, 2021
Breya Jones

Ginger Schultz has become the newest person to win $1 million from Kentucky’s COVID-19 vaccine sweepstakes.

Patricia Short of Lexington won in the first round of drawings.

Governor Andy Beshear presented Schultz, a life-long Louisville resident, with her million-dollar check at a press conference on Friday.

Schultz got her vaccine back in April. For her, getting the shot was about much more than her own safety.

“Like I said, my main thing was for my mom and my husband who have COPD issues. It’s the right thing to do for yourself, for the people you love, the people who you come in contact with,” said Schultz.

When revising its mask guidance this week to urge even vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in much of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was criticized for not citing data in making that move.

Now it has — and the data is sobering.

Owensboro Health is among hospitals across Kentucky reporting a recent surge in COVID-19 admissions.  

The hospital is bringing back some policies that were in place at the height of the pandemic.

Owensboro Health has reinstalled a tent outside the hospital emergency entrance.  The tent went up a year ago when the coronavirus was at its worst.  It was removed in May once the hospital experienced a sustained lull in COVID-19 admissions. 

With the recent spike in cases in Daviess County, the Messenger-Inquirer reports the tent is open again as a place for hospital patients to receive mono-clonal anti-body infusions. 

Owensboro Health has gone from about three admissions per day to 21 this past weekend.  In addition to reestablishing the tent, the hospital is once again requiring masks for everyone inside the hospital, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Ryan Van Velzer

Deaths from the pandemic are more than twice as high in Kentucky as the state reports in its COVID-19 death toll, according to estimates from the University of Washington.

Officially, Kentucky has reported around 7,300 COVID-19 deaths, but the latest data from UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates more than 17,000 Kentuckians have died as a result of of the pandemic.

This metric, known as “excess mortality,” uses death certificate data to get a more complete picture of the impact of the pandemic.

The magnitude of excess deaths is due, in part, to socioeconomic factors. In Kentucky, that includes a large percentage of the population with chronic health conditions like obesity and diabetes, less access to health care and lower levels of education, Mokdad said.

The Medical Center at Bowling Green

Bowling Green-based Med Center Health announced Thursday that it will require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The vaccine requirement applies to medical staff, students, residents, fellows, and vendors across the Med Center health system. 

The deadline for getting immunized carries some symbolic weight.

Those in leadership positions will have through August 9 to receive their first doses, while all others have through September 1.  The deadline is close to the one-year anniversary of the death of Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, the region’s top infectious disease specialist who contracted the coronavirus last year before vaccines were available. 

Adventure Science Center/via Facebook

Tennessee’s science museums have jointly decided to promote vaccines during August, which is the CDC’s National Immunization Awareness Month.

The Science Alliance of Tennessee is a consortium of six nonprofit science museums. Most of their effort entails filling their social media feeds with fact-based information. They also plan to hand out cards explaining mRNA technology and antibodies. The cards have “myth-buster” material about COVID shots:

Myth: Vaccines will make me sick.

Plausible: We might experience some of the same symptoms … the big difference is we recover quickly because there’s no harmful virus in us.

Jess Clark/WFPL

School districts across Kentucky are in high gear as they prepare for a return to in-person classes.

But on top of recovering from the COVID-19 upheaval of changing schedules and virtual instruction, there’s another wrinkle in the preparation.

A state education leader said there’s an unusually large number of vacant positions.  

The Kentucky Education Association represents 44,000 teachers and other school employees, including cafeteria workers and custodians. 

Updated July 27, 2021 at 3:09 PM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on wearing masks Tuesday. In a reversal of its earlier position, the agency is now recommending that some fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they live in areas with significant or high spread.

Corrine Boyer

With weeks to go before the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, state officials say the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 has led to a quintupling of new cases since the beginning of July, mostly among unvaccinated people.

Monday afternoon, Gov. Andy Beshear took to the podium with state education leaders to urge school districts to adopt mask requirements, but didn’t mandate they do so.

“Our priority is not to play politics, our priority isn’t to do some red or blue thing, or get involved in some ridiculous so-called culture war. Our priority: It’s our kids, and it is having them in class every day,” Beshear said.

Beshear said he was issuing three “clear recommendations” or “expectations,” which are in line with the July 15 guidance from the Kentucky Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Breya Jones

The front lawn of the Capitol building in Frankfort served as the backdrop for the “Worldwide Freedom Rally” on Saturday, where attendees railed against the unlikely possibility of mandated vaccines and the governor’s COVID-19 response.

The rally was held by America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing medical professionals organization. According to the organization, today’s rally was supposed to take place at several state capitols across the nation.  

The event’s speakers addressed critical race theory, concerns about communism in the US and the Kentucky government’s response to COVID-19. 

There was general fear about government-sponsored vaccine mandates, particularly requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for students attending public school, despite there being no discussion about that currently.

Lisa Autry

It’s campaign season in Kentucky and the rest of the country, but not in the political sense. 

A vaccination campaign is underway against highly contagious coronavirus variants that are particularly a threat to unvaccinated individuals.  As Kentucky marks three consecutive weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases, the key to beating the virus remains winning the undecideds. 

The Bluegrass State confirmed more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest single-day increase the commonwealth has seen since March 11.  On top of that, the Delta variant has become the dominant and most aggressive strain in the state.  Given that it's more fatal than other variants,  Myrna Denny decided it was time to get vaccinated. 

“Relax, deep breath. Relax those shoulders," instructed a healthcare worker at Denny's appointment.

Denny was at a mass vaccination clinic run by the Medical Center in Bowling Green.  She’d been hesitant to get the shot after having an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine several years.

Owensboro Public Schools

As schools across Kentucky plan to welcome students back for in-person learning during the new academic year, many districts are scrambling to hire teachers and other staff.

One western Kentucky district has the added challenge of hiring for new positions created to address the impacts of COVID-19.

The human resources staff at Owensboro Public Schools is in high gear as they try to fill 20 vacant teacher positions, and 15 for instructional assistants as the Aug. 11 opening day rapidly approaches.

School district spokesperson Jared Revlett said hiring is in-progress for a variety of jobs across the district.