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State health officials submit draft distribution plan for future vaccine

By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today


 The number of new cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky fell on Sunday, and state public health officials have submitted a draft plan on how they plan to distribute a vaccine, when one becomes available.

 Even though some labs do not report on Sundays, there were 812 new coronavirus cases. Of the new cases, 116 were from children up through age 18, of which 28 were age five and under. The youngest was just one month old. This means the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in Kentucky now stands at 87,607 since the first one was reported on March 6.

 Although the 812 new cases are less than the 852 reported a week ago, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky still must do better, given the high number of cases reported during the past week.

 “All of the things that we want to do, like fully reengaging our economy and getting our children back to in-person instruction, is dependent on everyone taking this virus a lot more seriously,” he stated. “Mask up, maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently, keep gatherings to no more than 10 people and avoid traveling to virus hotspots. We can get where we need to be but only together as Team Kentucky.”

 There were also five more COVID-19-related deaths on Sunday, bringing the death total to 1,317. The newly reported deaths include a 76-year-old man from Boyd County, a 73-year-old woman from Fayette County, a 67-year-old man from Greenup County, a 91-year-old woman from Lincoln County, and a 91-year-old woman from Marion County.

 “That’s five more families grieving another loved one lost to the coronavirus,” the Governor said. “Let’s remember to light our houses and businesses up green to show them we care, and ring bells at 10 a.m. to honor these Kentuckians taken from us too soon.”

 Due to limited reporting on Sundays, some information will be delayed until Monday. That includes total tests performed, the number of Kentuckians who are hospitalized, those who have recovered, and the state’s positivity rate.

 Starting tomorrow, Kentucky will use COVID-19 PCR tests that are sent electronically to calculate the statewide test positivity rate. According to State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, “PCR tests are the most reliable test for finding active disease in those currently infected and more than 90% of all COVID-19 tests currently performed in Kentucky are PCR tests.”

 Dr. Stack said there are four main benefits of using electronically reported PCR tests to calculate the positivity rate: automated collection of data, a more stable data stream filtered for the past seven days, and a quick turnaround on testing results.

 The first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine is anticipated for delivery in late 2020 or early 2021 to Kentucky from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Defense, so state public health officials have submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an initial, comprehensive draft plan for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to local health departments and health care organizations.

 “The federal government provided a detailed plan for how states should distribute the vaccine, once all safety trials are completed, and the commonwealth’s plan closely mimics their recommendation,” said Gov. Beshear. “Protecting the health and lives of our Kentucky families remains our top priority as we battle COVID-19 and as vaccines arrive.”

 Dr. Stack noted, “The first phase of the plan will help ensure those most at risk, certain health care workers and first responders, have access to the vaccination. The plan will accommodate vaccinating these essential workers in every county across the Commonwealth.”

 The 49-page plan covers vaccine management and tracking, supply management, community education and engagement, contact management, analytics and reporting, and organizational support.

 “Supplies of the vaccine will be limited, at first,” Stack said. “This is the reason for a phased distribution approach. As supplies of the vaccine rise, all Kentuckians are expected to have access,” he said, adding that distributing the vaccine to as many as 4.4 million residents will likely take a year or more to complete.

 “For months, it’s been necessary to remind Kentuckians that there is no cure for COVID-19 and that no vaccine exists. It’s gratifying to have gotten to this point, to be in the position of saying that soon, the vaccine will be available to some, and that it’s on its way to every resident of our Commonwealth who wishes to take it,” Stack noted.

 Federal officials will review and provide necessary feedback on the state’s draft plan, which has been posted to kycovid19.ky.gov, the state’s official website for information related to the coronavirus. When the plan is approved, the final version will also be posted there.

 Gov. Beshear’s next press briefing is expected Monday afternoon at 4:00pm. It will likely still be done virtually on YouTube and Facebook; as the Governor, first lady, and their two children have been in quarantine at the Governor’s Mansion since a member of his security details tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, October 10.

 The family has tested negative, most recently on Friday. The Governor says the state trooper has been experiencing only mild symptoms.

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