COVID-19

A vaccine manufacturer is reporting preliminary data suggesting its COVID-19 vaccine is safe, and appears to be eliciting in test subjects the kind of immune response capable of preventing disease.

Moderna, Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., developed the vaccine in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The results reported Monday come from an initial analysis of a Phase I study primarily designed to see if the vaccine is safe.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky state parks, campgrounds and aquatic centers will be allowed to reopen on June 1. The recreational spaces have been closed since March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Tourism is an incredibly important business in Kentucky. We’re taking a big revenue hit from it,” Beshear said. “But that’s not the reason we’re reopening it now. It’s that we believe we can do it safely.”

Beshear said he believes opening parks and campgrounds will help “boost the state’s economy,” and allow Kentuckians the opportunity to travel in-state this summer.

Becca Schimmel

A survey of businesses in the Somerset region found that more than 90 percent of them are being impacted, in some way, by COVID-19. 

The Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce surveyed 158 people in the business community to gather perspective on restarting the local economy.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bobby Clue said the goal was to quantify perspective from a wide representation of businesses.

“It was a very well-rounded collection," said Clue. "We had everybody from retail and entertainment to restaurants and hotels, health care, agriculture, manufacturing and industry, real estate, banking education, nonprofits, technical services, all those were represented.”

The survey found that about one-quarter of those who responded reported a 50 percent decline in revenue.


TN Dept. of Health via Twitter

Pandemic modeling from Vanderbilt University finds Tennessee was able to drive down the COVID-19 transmission rate well ahead of the initial projections made on April 10. As a result, the number of people simultaneously hospitalized has plateaued below 300 statewide.

A month ago, even if the state made “continued progress” to slow the spread of the virus, concurrent hospitalizations would have at least hit 1,200 by mid-May. But Vanderbilt modelers say the state started slowing the spread of COVID-19 a month earlier than expected, meaning that on average not every person with a positive case was getting at least one other person sick.

States are beginning to receive cases of an experimental COVID-19 drug that the Food and Drug Administration authorized for emergency use on May 1.

But the distribution process so far has puzzled some hospitals and states about why they've been left empty-handed.

Kentucky Department of Corrections

The number of COVID-19 cases in Muhlenberg County has spiked suddenly, following the recent mass testing at a state prison in Central City.

The Muhlenberg County Health Department reports 467 cases of COVID-19.

The total includes confirmed cases in the community, and at the Green Rive Correctional Complex, a state prison in Central City that can house close to 1,000 men. 

Alma Fink is nursing supervisor for the Muhlenberg County Health Department.

“The spike was reported suddenly because as the tests were done over the period of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week, they were sent to Gravity labs to be finalized, and those results started flowing in a couple of days after the tests were run," said Fink.


facebook/Perdue Farms

Public health officials in Kentucky are working with meat processing plants aross the state to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services reports the number of COVID-19 cases at Perdue Farms in Ohio County jumped from 186 to 281 last week.

Kentucky Commissioner for Public Health Dr. Steven Stack said the increase is the result of expanded testing of Perdue workers. 

“I’m very grateful for the open communication I’ve had with the leadership at Perdue. They did, just a few days ago, test the entire workforce and they had a positivity rate of about 7.8 percent or so, which is not as bad as we thought it could be," Dr. Stack said during a May 9 press conference with Gov. Andy Beshear.

Leachman Buick GMC Cadillac Facebook

After grinding to a halt due to COVID-19, Kentucky is taking a major step toward restarting its economy.

Manufacturing, construction, car dealerships, and pet grooming are among the business sectors that opened  their doors to customers on Monday for the first time in nearly two months.  David Jaggers, general manager of Leachman Buick, GMC, Cadillac of Bowling Green, says the last seven weeks have been unprecedented.

"I've been in the business 44 years and its the first time I've experienced not being able to allow people in our showroom or offices," Jaggers said.


Hardin Memorial Health

A landmark study on combatting the coronavirus is happening at hospitals across the country, including in Kentucky. 

Hardin Memorial Health in Elizabethtown is treating COVID-19 patients with plasma donated from patients who have recovered from the respiratory illness.  The  recovered patients have developed antibodies, which researchers think can more quickly fight the infection in sick patients. 

Dr. Natalie Harper is leading the study at HMH.

"Of course this is still a research project and we don’t know how well this treatment will work, but we are very hopeful, and many physicians involved in the research are very optimistic about the results," Harper told WKU Public Radio.

Updated on May 5 at 3:02 p.m. ET to include additional White House reactions.

On Monday the New York Times published what appeared to be an explosive finding: an internal document from the Trump Administration that forecast many more coming deaths from the coronavirus than the president has predicted publicly.

Ileana Gaynor

Schools across Kentucky are shut down for the remainder of the academic year because of COVID-19, and most students are adapting to virtual learning.

But students who were already struggling, or have English as a second or third language, are at-risk for falling behind. 

Educators in Owensboro Public Schools, like teachers across the nation, are increasing communication to keep at-risk students engaged.

Estes Elementary in Owensboro, which has students in preschool through 5th grade, has about 100 "English Learners." Those students are dealing with the combined challenges of language and the loss of in-person instruction in the classroom.


Amy Hardin

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted lives across Kentucky. Whether through lost work, lost loved ones, or lost social interaction, everyone is feeling the effects of the pandemic.

Near the beginning of social distancing restrictions, WKU Public Radio asked for listeners to share their stories. Here are three of our submissions:


J. Tyler Franklin

In mid-April, the Centers for Disease Control began including probable and presumed positive cases in their coronavirus death toll numbers. 

But it wasn’t until nearly two weeks later, on April 27, that Kentucky started reporting probable cases in its death toll. The 213 deaths reported in the first seven weeks of Kentucky’s pandemic only include people who were tested and confirmed to have coronavirus. 

Which means the accuracy of the state’s death toll is only as good as its testing. 

 


Fruit of the Loom plans to furlough more than 500 employees at three Bowling Green locations. 

The furloughs are slated to begin Monday and affect employees at the company’s campuses on Fruit of the Loom Drive and on Hennessy Way, as well as the Brand Shop on Scottsville Road. 

In a letter to the Kentucky Division of Workforce and Employment Services, the company says the furloughs are in response to the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions mandated by state authorities. 

Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland

Hunger in Kentucky is increasing as COVID-19 precautions have shut down most businesses, while senior citizens and others with underlying medical conditions are staying home.

Emergency distributions are helping to keep food on the table during this difficult time.

Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland has been assessing the 42 counties it serves. Executive Director Jamie Sizemore said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means families just do not have enough money to pay for housing, utilities and food.

“Our partner agencies are reporting everywhere from a 30-60 percent increase in food assistance," said Sizemore. "And one of the things, obviously, we’re seeing is a lot of people that are first-time users of food banks or food assistance programs.”


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