FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentuckians should vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to protect fellow family and community members this Thanksgiving holiday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday.
Vaccinated Kentuckians should also get a booster shot if they are eligible, he advised.
“If everybody’s vaccinated for Thanksgiving dinner, you are the safest that you’ve been at a holiday since the beginning of the pandemic,” the Democratic governor said at a virtual news briefing.
People should also make sure to stay home and avoid holiday gatherings if they feel sick, Beshear said. Those who are unvaccinated or have not yet had a booster should make sure to wear a masks while indoors. Gatherings should also be small.
Adults living and working in Kentucky are eligible for a booster shot six months after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, or two months after a single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Roughly 500,000 Kentuckians have gotten a booster.
Beshear's recommendations come as Kentucky reports a slight increase in cases. For instance, the number of cases reported on Saturday and Sunday was the highest increase in the last four weeks.
Kentucky reported 3,888 new coronavirus cases and 101 virus-related deaths in the past three days.
Some 809 Kentuckians are hospitalized, up 90 from last Monday.
“With hospitalizations going up, it ought to tell everybody that we need to be really careful on Thanksgiving this week, as well as Christmas coming up,” Beshear said.
Requests for monoclonal antibody treatments has also increased, Beshear added. That was yet another possible indicator of another surge in coronavirus cases, fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant.
Eight out of 10 hospital regions in Kentucky have intensive care unit capacity at 80% and up. Only 198 ICU beds are available throughout the entire state, according to state reports.
Still, the number of hospitals experiencing staffing shortages has dipped below 30, the lowest amount in a while, Beshear reported.
According to state data, 59% of the total state population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, below the national average.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.