There are more than half a million unclaimed COVID-19 vaccines across Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday, as he announced 628 new cases and eight virus-related deaths.
On getting a coronavirus vaccine, “there is no excuse on access,” Beshear said during a live update. “It is now everywhere. All we need is for you to go out and get it.”
The overall curve of infection remains plateaued, Beshear said, but he cautioned against Kentuckians taking too much solace in that. With roughly 37 percent of the state population vaccinated, there is still risk of a fourth spike in infections.
“If enough people don’t get vaccinated, with the variants, we will see an increase in cases,” he said.
The positivity rate is 3.36%. There are 440 people hospitalized with coronavirus — the most since March 21, and 23 more than were hospitalized on Wednesday. Of those, 121 are in intensive care (eight more) and 55 are on a ventilator (up three).
Close to 1,696,500 people have received at least an initial dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The pace of new vaccinations statewide has been slowing for the last four weeks. Beshear continues to push Kentuckians toward a goal of vaccinating 2.5 million people (roughly 56% of the state population) before he rescinds coronavirus restrictions on businesses and venues serving fewer than 1,000 people — a feat achievable as early as next month, based on supply. There are more than 550,000 unclaimed doses right now across Kentucky.
“It has never been easier,” Beshear said. “No one has to wait anymore.”
But at the rate of people choosing to get vaccinations this month, that goal will not be reached at least until mid-summer. Based on the pace since Tuesday — 24,081 people have received a first dose since April 20 — Kentucky won’t hit its 2.5 million benchmark until July 8.
Beshear said Kentucky, like the rest of the country, is contending with “a major drop off in the number of Americans eager to get vaccinated.” The solution, he continues to say, lies with trusted local leaders, including doctors and faith leaders urging their communities to get the vaccine.
“What we really need is community leadership,” he said.
Beshear said again on Thursday he has no intention of making vaccinations mandatory, and Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack emphasized it has to be “your choice to accept vaccination to protect yourselves and loved ones.”
But both pleaded with people to make informed decisions that hinge on credible information.
“We’ve got a complicated country right now. We’ve got people believing some of the craziest things from the internet that we could ever imagine,” Beshear said. “That makes it hard to ultimately bring people around.”