coronavirus

The American Academy of Pediatrics released updated guidance for schools Monday, recommending that all students over 2 years old, along with staff, wear masks, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Delta Variant Fueling Rise In Kentucky COVID-19 Cases

Jul 20, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cases of COVID-19 are again on the rise in Kentucky prompting Gov. Andy Beshear to issue a new round of recommendations to combat the spread of the Delta variant.  

New cases have nearly tripled in Kentucky since late June with 2,992 cases reported last week. The positivity rate, which in recent months dipped below 1%, is now at 5.48%. State health experts estimate more than half of all new cases are attributable to the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than the original virus. 

The Delta variant poses the greatest risk to unvaccinated Kentuckians, though higher case counts also encompass a higher number of “breakthrough cases,” where vaccinated people come down with the virus.

Public Health Commission Dr. Steven Stack said the more unvaccinated people in a population, the greater the risk is for everyone, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, to contract the virus. But the inverse is also true. As the number of vaccinations increased from March through June, the overall number of infections decreased.

Rhonda J. Miller

For thousands of people in Kentucky, the highly effective COVID-19 vaccines have allowed life to return to mostly normal. 

But for “long haulers” like Army Staff Sgt. Noah Cole, who contracted COVID before vaccines were widely available, the devastating impact on his health threatens to destroy his dream of a military career. 

A native of Williamsburg in southeastern Kentucky, Cole, 28, joined the Army a year after graduating from high school. 

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with Staff Sgt. Cole at Fort Campbell, the Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. 


Stu Johnson | WEKU

Kentucky is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases.  State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said Thursday the latest tally revealed about 100 new cases more than the week before.

Stack said the coronavirus positivity rate has gone up more than one percent over that time. “The positivity rate is going up and the cases are going up. Now the real question will be: will the vaccines help to keep those at lower levels, and will it keep the hospitals and the ICU’S from getting filled up, and will it keep people safe and protected serious permanent harm and or death?” 

While there are 26 confirmed Delta variant COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth, state officials believe the true number of Delta cases is higher.

Rhonda J. Miller

The time we're living in now might be thought of as “pandemic recovery.”

After 15 months of shutdowns, stress and isolation, Kentucky is open for business and there's a welcome return to social activities. 

Schools will be fully in-person for the new academic year in the fall.

But the anxiety many children experienced during the pandemic is not likely to be washed away in the water parks and swimming pools of summer. 

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with Tanner Steelman, a licensed clinical social worker who is mental health supervisor for Bowling Green City Schools


Kevin Willis

 

The federal government is rescinding thousands of payments promised to struggling restaurants. 

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was meant to provide pandemic relief. Initially, the program offered a 21-day exclusivity period for women, military veterans and “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals” to apply first. But a series of lawsuits halted the program, accusing it of being unfair because it prioritizes businesses owned by women and people of color.

One of the lawsuits was filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee by Antonio Vitolo, the owner of Jake’s Bar and Grill in Harriman, Tenn., who said he was discriminated against because he is a white male. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed.

In light of the court rulings, nearly 3,000 applicants had their grants revoked.

Community Action of Southern Kentucky

After more than a year of isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults will soon be able to return for meals and socializing at senior centers in the 10-county Barren River region. 

All of the 13 senior centers in the Barren River Area Development District will re-open for meals and activities by July 6, with a few of the centers welcoming local residents back on July 1.

Kathy Fugate is senior center director for Community Action of Southern Kentucky. She said the 15 months the centers were closed during the pandemic was an especially difficult time for vulnerable elders.


Corrine Boyer

Kentuckians receiving unemployment benefits could be eligible for a $1,500 payment if they re-enter the workforce by the end of July.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced the new back-to-work incentive at a press conference Thursday afternoon. Kentucky officials estimate roughly 60,000 residents are receiving $300 in weekly pandemic unemployment assistance on top of state unemployment benefits. The state is setting aside $22.5 million in federal CARES Act funding for the new program, which would cover the incentive payments for 15,000 participants.

Some critics have called for the end of the additional unemployment benefits. Beshear says doing so would harm Kentucky families and the economy.

A new study estimates that life expectancy in the U.S. decreased by nearly two years between 2018 and 2020, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the declines were most pronounced among minority groups, including Black and Hispanic people.

In 2018, average life expectancy in the U.S. was about 79 years (78.7). It declined to about 77 years (76.9) by the end of 2020, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

Blake Farmer | WPLN

A more infectious strain of the COVID-19 virus, known as the Delta variant, is on the move in Tennessee. The state’s health department has counted about 20 cases so far, concentrated in Shelby County.

The number is almost certainly an undercount since a majority of positive COVID tests are not screened to determine the particular strain. And if they’re not distributed statewide yet, they won’t be isolated for long.

“Just like with any variant, people travel. So will the variant,” says Dr. Lisa Piercey, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health.

The variant, first discovered in India, is turning out to be more contagious and more likely to send people to the hospital. It’s led to a surge of cases in southwest Missouri in recent weeks.

Facebook/ConCon's

It's the first full week that businesses across Kentucky reopened with no mask, social distancing or capacity requirements.

Some changes made to meet the challenges of the pandemic turned out to be good for business. 

Along Russellville Road in Bowling Green, one visible change made during the pandemic is a white tent installed in front of a little diner named ConCon’s

Owner Connie Blair said she had to adapt quickly to the requirements of the pandemic. She didn’t have any indoor dining for nine months

“I never shut the doors, not at all. I put in the drive-up window in six hours after it started and I put a PA system outside,” said Blair. “You know, they just cracked their window and waited for me tell ‘em to pull up to the window and pick their food up.”

She said the changes that saved her business are going to stay. 


Flickr/Creative Commons

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday over the legislature’s attempt to limit Gov. Andy Beshear’s emergency powers, a day before the governor scheduled coronavirus restrictions to expire.

The Republican-led legislature passed several laws undermining the Democratic governor’s emergency powers earlier this year—including a measure limiting executive orders to 30 days unless renewed by lawmakers and requiring him to seek approval from the attorney general in order to suspend statutes during states of emergency.

Amy Cubbage, Beshear’s general counsel, argued that since the Kentucky constitution makes the governor the “chief executive,” the governor’s emergency powers are protected.

Mary Meehan

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is closing its two COVID-19 vaccination centers in Kentucky on Thursday, June 10.

In April, FEMA opened military-run vaccination clinics in Henderson and Laurel counties, both rural areas with lower vaccination rates at the time. 

The clinic at the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Agency was capable of giving 250 doses of the vaccine per day, but averaged about 40 injections daily.  Henderson Mayor Steve Austin said the clinic was a bit out of the way and may have posed a transportation challenge for some residents.

“Honestly, the walk-in clinic didn’t draw the number of people we hoped it would," Austin told WKU Public Radio. However, the satellite vans they sent out to different areas did very well.”

J. Tyler Franklin

A panel of Republican state legislators voted to end Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s mask mandate three days before it’s set to expire.

The largely symbolic move comes after more than a year of partisan fighting over the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beshear has said he will end the mask mandate on Friday and scheduled his final regular coronavirus briefing to be on the same day.

Still, because last month Beshear updated the state’s regulation to no longer require vaccinated people to wear masks in most places, the policy needed to be reviewed by the legislature’s Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee.

The Creme Coffee House

A coffee shop in Owensboro is among businesses across Kentucky preparing for Friday’s return to full capacity, as the state emerges from the shadow of COVID-19 with vaccines readily available and the number of cases dramatically reduced. 

One young owner took a big risk when she bought a small Daviess County business in the midst of the pandemic and guided it through the economic and emotional turmoil of the past year. 

Brooklyn Patterson became owner of The Creme Coffee House in May 2020. It was a time when many small businesses were wiped out as a result of mandated closures, limited capacity and COVID-19 ravaging families and communities. 


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