Kentucky continues to expand vaccination network

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Twenty-eight more COVID-19 vaccination sites will open as Kentucky's inoculation network grows in preparation for the time when vaccine supplies are much more plentiful, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

More than 555,000 Kentuckians have received at least their first dose of vaccine, but the state's ability to provide shots still far outpaces available supplies, the governor said.

Kentucky's network of inoculation locations will grow to 291 with the new openings, which include regional centers in Albany, Cadiz, Campbellsville, Hartford, Marion and Maysville, according to the governor's office. New sites opening in partnership with Kroger include Bardstown, LaGrange, Lebanon, Louisville, Madisonville, Morehead, Mount Sterling, Owensboro, Somerset and Walton.

Other new sites are scattered across the state.

“There is a provider that has vaccine close to where everybody lives in the commonwealth,” Beshear said at a news conference. "There are some areas where you might have to drive just a little bit further, but we continue to build this out.”

Kentucky is set to receive another 29% increase in COVID-19 vaccine supply from the federal government starting next week, Beshear has said. Recent increases haven't kept up with demand, which means providers have limited supplies as the buildup of vaccination sites continues, he said.

“We don’t have nearly what we could put in people’s arms," Beshear said. “And every time we add sites, and we add them for convenience, it does split up the pie in more and more amounts.”

It's being done to prepare for the time when the vaccine is much more plentiful, he said.

“The reason we have to do this is we expect significant additional supply in March and as we move into the summer," the Democratic governor said. "So what we’re building ... isn’t meant for the amount of supply we have now. It’s meant for the day that we get so much in that we can get everybody through.”

Winter weather that has covered Kentucky in snow and ice caused some disruptions in vaccinations in recent days, but Beshear said “we’re going to catch back up.” At least 1,300 people received shots Thursday at the vaccination site at the Kentucky Horse Park at Lexington, he said.

Meanwhile, the state reported 963 new coronavirus cases, the lowest total for a Thursday since early October, the governor said. Just eight new cases were reported among residents of long-term care facilities and 10 new cases among staff, a result of vaccinations, he said.

But the state's death count remained high, with 37 new virus-related deaths reported. That raises the death toll to at least 4,373 since the pandemic began.

More than 930 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including 260 in intensive-care units.

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