COVID-19

Johns Hopkins/Bloomberg School of Public Health

The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations is ramping up quickly across Kentucky, with large regional centers and pharmacies providing more access.

But one of the challenges is how to vaccinate the homebound elderly.

Many Kentuckians who are homebound are in the current priority groups for vaccinations. That includes the 1B group for those over age 70, and the 1C group for those 60 and older.

The challenges for many of these older adults include a lack of computer skills, internet access or transportation.


Owensboro Public Schools FB

The Owensboro and Daviess County school boards will meet Thursday afternoon to consider the districts' plans to return to a five-day schedule of in-person classes.

Both school systems plan to welcome students back full-time on March 22. 

In a joint news conference on Wednesday, the districts said a decrease in COVID-19 cases and an increasing supply of the vaccine make reopening possible. 

Daviess County Superintendent Matt Robbins said it’s important for teachers and staff to see students in-person for the remaining nine weeks of the school year.

“We know they need us, and frankly, we need them, Robbins said. "There’s a lot of needs of our children from academic to mental health, social, emotional, anxiety issues. We need to see them so we can begin to diagnose those needs.”

Ana Studer

Educators across Kentucky, and the nation, are finding that the pandemic has caused a loss of academic progress, as students struggle with a roller coaster of schedules and remote learning.

Another major loss is the limitation, or suspension, of extracurricular activities.

The return of in-person learning in many Kentucky school districts may begin to make up for some of the gaps in social connection and academic progress. 

Teachers and students across Kentucky continue the monumental struggle to adapt to COVID-19 safety precautions.

But despite all the best intentions, the pandemic has blasted a hole in the social and academic structure of education. 


Hopkins Co. Schools

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order on Tuesday recommending that all school districts offer some type of in-person learning starting March 1 or within a week of vaccinations for school personnel. The order recommends that classes resume seven days after teachers and staff have received their second COVID-19 vaccinations, though the decision is being left to districts. 

The order also states that masks must be worn at all times in schools and during transportation to and from schools.  

“This is one of the number one ways that we can keep everybody in that school safe,” Beshear said. “And it’s going to be incredibly important, especially for districts that may go back for the first time, that this is strictly enforced as all of the studies that suggest there is low transmission are of districts that had and enforced a strong mask mandate.”

Creative Commons

The Kentucky Department of Education is preparing to administer state assessments this spring, despite disruptions in learning brought on by COVID-19. The tests are expected to reveal the impact of the pandemic on student achievement.

The U.S. Department of Education, so far, has not granted waivers on statewide testing as it did for the 2019-2020 school year. In a Sept. 3 letter to Chief State School Officers, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote that states should not anticipate such waivers this academic year.

Kentucky administers tests in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and 10; in science at grades 4, 7 and 11; and in social studies and writing at grades 5, 8 and 11. 

In addition, students in 11th grade take a state administration of the ACT.


Montgomery County Health Department

Tennessee counties are saying goodbye to Signup Genius. Local health departments have been relying on the free scheduling website to coordinate COVID-19 vaccination appointments. But the state has now launched a customized online scheduling tool.

Cathy Montgomery leads the Williamson County Health Department, which is training on the system now and making the switch March 15. Nurses will now be armed with iPads accessing the patient information as they administered doses, she says.

“The system has a lot of tremendous features that we hope will certainly improve our processes and make things go a little bit faster for us,” Montgomery said during an online forum Friday.

Lisa Autry

Governor Andy Beshear says Kentucky is in a position to receive an influx of the COVID-19 vaccine when the first major shipment arrives next month. 

Beshear visited a Kroger Health mass vaccination site in Bowling Green on Friday. The clinic has already vaccinated some 2,300 people in the week since it opened.  Beshear said the state is getting about 80,000 doses of the vaccine each week, but has the capability to administer more than a quarter-million doses per week. 

“We can build out the infrastructure to when we get several hundred-thousand vaccines a week, that we are capable of already providing, that we can get them out quickly and our citizens do not have to wait," Beshear said. 

Close to 300 total vaccination sites are open in Kentucky, including 28 new ones announced on Thursday.  The additional vaccination clinics include locations in Albany, Campbellsville, Hartford, Bardstown, Owensboro, Somerset, Leitchfield, and Russellville.

White House officials on Friday confirmed the extent of the weather's chilling effect on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, saying this week's storms created a backlog of some 6 million doses affecting all 50 states.

That number represents three days' worth of delayed shipments, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser on the White House COVID-19 Response Team. He added that many states have been able to cover some of the delay with their existing inventory, and that the Biden administration expects to make up the backlog shortly.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that coronavirus restrictions will be loosened at some long-term care facilities in Kentucky this weekend.

The new guidance applies to assisted living, personal care homes and independent living communities. Indoor visitation, communal dining and group activities will continue for people who have completed the vaccination process starting Saturday. But it doesn’t apply to Medicare-certified facilities, such as skilled nursing facilities.

“What this means is once someone is better protected from this disease, we want them to be able to see their loved ones,” Beshear said. “Again, this doesn’t apply to the highest-level of care facilities yet.”

Lisa Autry

Some regional vaccination clinics in Kentucky are still offering the COVID-19 vaccine despite the winter storm. 

A clinic run by Kroger Health is open at Greenwood Mall in Bowling Green.  Bruce Kessler was there on Thursday and said he didn’t let the weather deter him from getting his first injection.  

“We’re fairly brave when we need to get out," Kessler said. "Front wheel drive vehicles are a marvelous creation, and I had been out yesterday and knew the roads were pretty okay where they had been scraped,   so I felt like we could get to the mall, no problem.”

Kessler received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine with his twin 18-year-old daughters.  His wife and son who are both educators have already received both doses.

Kentucky Gets Bump In Supply Of Vaccine Doses

Feb 17, 2021
Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday that the federal government is increasing Kentucky’s supply of vaccine doses by nearly a third in the coming week. 

“Starting next week we’re getting another 29% increase in our supply. That’ll mean since this new administration took over they have increased our weekly amounts by 57%,” Beshear said. 

Beshear said the state received about 53,800 doses in mid January and doses have increased in recent weeks. Next week it will receive approximately 87,800 doses.

Kentucky has recorded five cases of the B-1-1-7 variant of coronavirus first reported in the United Kingdom, Beshear said. By the end of March, he said, some health officials predict that more infectious strain could become the dominant variant found in the U.S.

Adam Schultz

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cripple the economy in the Ohio Valley and President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are pursuing his plan for economic recovery.

Biden’s economic priorities include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, forgiving student loan debt, and undoing some Trump-era tax cuts. But Biden’s immediate focus is on his “American Rescue Plan” for economic recovery and ending the pandemic. Last month Biden laid out his two-step plan for rescue and recovery. 

“The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight,” Biden said while giving an address about the plan. “We have to act, and we have to act now.”Regional economists have weighed in on what the Ohio Valley needs and many are in agreement that the region is in need of financial aid, job creation and security, and a national plan to end the pandemic.


President Biden has finalized deals to buy 200 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of July, increasing the likelihood of delivering on his promise to have all Americans inoculated by mid-summer.

Abbygail Broughton

The Madison County health department in Kentucky has kept its harm reduction program open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to continue its work against the other epidemic afflicting the region: the addiction crisis. Through the program, people can exchange needles, receive referrals for addiction treatment services, and get training to use the overdose-reversal drug Narcan. 

Laura Nagle, a risk reduction specialist at the department, said they use a van to provide training and doses of Narcan in area communities such as Richmond. 

“The mobile unit is a part of Madison County’s harm reduction team, but [the University of Kentucky] provides the Narcan. So we actually couldn’t do this outreach if it weren’t for the HEALling Communities project,” Nagle said. 

  

John Boyle

 As Kentucky continues to vaccinate only first responders, teachers and people most vulnerable to the virus, some state lawmakers are pushing for Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration to move child care workers to the front of the line.

During a meeting of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Paducah Republican Sen. Danny Carroll said he doesn’t understand why K-12 teachers are eligible for the vaccine, but child care workers aren’t.

“Our child care workers have been working daily ever since the child care centers were allowed to reopen,” Carroll said.

“So we’re vaccinating people to sit at home when you have another group who is working with kids, who is working every day, who can’t get the vaccine.”

Pages