Beshear Urges Vigilance As Weekly Covid-19 Cases Increase

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky reported a weekly increase in COVID-19 cases Monday after an extended stretch of declining infections, as the governor urged vigilance to guard against another potential surge.

The sudden increase in weekly coronavirus cases was announced on the same day that Kentucky opened vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older in another major expansion of COVID-19 shots.

Gov. Andy Beshear urged people to sign up for vaccinations and to follow such long-standing precautions as mask wearing and social distancing to prevent another spike in virus cases.

“We need to be vigilant," he said at a news conference. "We need to be a little bit concerned. And in being concerned and in seeing this, we need to say that, yes, a fourth wave is absolutely possible.”

Kentucky had 4,377 new virus cases in the last week, compared with 4,196 the prior week, Beshear said. But he noted that the statewide rate of positive virus cases — seen as a leading indicator for trends — has been relatively steady in the past three weeks.

The governor said it's “too early to tell” whether another surge of cases will hit Kentucky.

“It is not written in stone that we are going to have a fourth surge," he said. “Things we do right now can prevent that fourth surge. And we have had declining cases longer than just about any other state in the country, meaning we are better positioned, if there’s going to be one, having delayed it while we vaccinate more people.”

More than 1.4 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, he said.

But the governor raised concerns about whether demand for vaccinations could be stalling. With the latest vaccination ramp-up, it's crucial to get young adults inoculated, he said. Spikes in virus cases and hospitalizations in other states were sparked by infections in that age group, he said.

Kentucky has more than 500 vaccination sites, and the governor reported thousands of available appointments at several of them.

“We know this is our ticket out of this pandemic," Beshear said. "And the faster we get people vaccinated, the safer we are, the more that we can do and the more likely we fully and finally defeat COVID-19.”

The governor announced 409 new COVID-19 cases statewide in the past two days, including 110 cases reported Monday — a number that could reflect lab closures during the Easter weekend. He reported 22 more virus-related deaths, which includes 13 deaths discovered through the state’s audit of deaths from prior months.

More than 350 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including nearly 100 in intensive care units.

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