COVID-19 on increase in Kentucky again, vaccines urged

Kentucky has begun to see another uptick in COVID-19 cases, according to State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.

During a Capitol press conference, Stack said Kentucky had seen eight straight weeks of declines. “Last week, there were 100 more cases than the week before. The positivity rate is also going up. It has increased more than one percentage point over the last eight or nine days. I think those are real increases. The real question is, will the vaccines help to keep those at lower levels, and will it keep the hospitals and the ICUs from getting filled up?”

He said all the evidence so far is that the vaccines have been “wildly protective and very helpful. They’re not perfect, though.”

Stack confirmed that there is great concern over the Delta variant and that it’s important people do not get complacent when it comes to getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. While the immediate crisis has passed, the pandemic has not.

“In the span of eight weeks, according to the CDC, the Delta variant has gone from 3% to 10%, to 30%, and they project the next two-week period it will be 51%,” he said. “That’s been a tripling every two weeks. Our numbers are increasing and will increase for the Delta variant in Kentucky. It currently stands at 26 cases in Kentucky.”

Stack said the Delta variant is two-and-a-half times more effective in spreading, which means if it gets in your community, “it’s going to spread real fast.”

His bottom line: “The single best thing you can do to protect yourselves and protect all of us is to get vaccinated. We still have about 35-40% of the population that we need to get themselves safe with vaccination and help keep others safe.”

He also said it’s yet to be determined if boosters will be required in the fall, but the federal government is planning for it in case they need to be deployed.

Gov. Andy Beshear, when asked by Kentucky Today if he is considering reinstituting the mask mandate, given the spread of the Delta variant, replied, “Dr. Fauci, in talking to governors on Tuesday, said, ‘I’m not making any recommendations in that area because the number one thing you ought to do is go get vaccinated.’ If getting that shot protects everybody to a significant degree, then asking others to take that other step, I think is premature right now.”

He said he is looking at different options, especially when school reopens and big team sporting events are taking place, but urged younger people, those 12 and older, to get vaccinated.