Kentucky further from lifting COVID restrictions as vaccination rate decreases

Public health data shows the state’s vaccination rate has steadily decreased in the past four weeks
Kentucky public health data indicates it could take months to reach Gov. Andy Beshear’s goal of 2.5 million vaccinations.
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 7:17 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky public health data indicates it could take months to reach Gov. Andy Beshear’s goal of 2.5 million vaccinations.

On April 12, Beshear announced Kentucky would lift restrictions on capacity, curfew, and physical distancing at most businesses if the “vaccine challenge” was met.

“When we have vaccinated 2.5 million Kentuckians we will remove capacity restrictions for nearly all venues, events, and businesses that cater to 1,000 or fewer patrons. And this goal, when reached, we will remove the physical distancing restrictions and we will end the curfew that we have on bars and restaurants,” Beshear said.

Beshear said Kentucky could be just three to four weeks away but was realistically up to six weeks away from achieving the required number of vaccinations.

At the current rate, however, it could be June or even August before 2.5 million first doses have been distributed. Public health data shows Kentucky’s rate of vaccination has steadily decreased in the past four weeks.

Just last month, the state reported an all-time high weekly vaccination rate; more than 172,000 first doses were distributed during the 7-day period from March 16 to 22.

Since then, increasingly fewer people are getting a shot every day. From March 23 to March 29, only 143,881 people received their first vaccine dose. From March 30 to April, it was only 127,645.

As of April 22, close to 1.7 million Kentuckians have been vaccinated; to reach Beshear’s goal another 800,000 people would need to roll up their sleeves.

In April, about 16,000 people received their first dose every day. If the state continues vaccinations at the same daily pace, it would be June before Kentucky distributed 2.5 million doses.

If the rate of vaccination instead continues to decline, Beshear’s goal may not be met until July or August based on exponential projections.

“We’re not trying to set this goal to upset anybody, it’s just basic math about how safe we are,” Beshear said Thursday.

Riot Café and Limbo Bar owner Olivia Griffin told WAVE 3 she is hopeful the vaccine goal is met so she can fully reopen her business. Currently, bars and restaurants are limited to 60% capacity indoors and must adhere to a 1 a.m. curfew.

“The curfew restriction is probably one of the most harmful things, she said. “Our model is more like, we want people to come, we want them to stay and keep ordering … Even when we get the restrictions lifted, we are recovering from major, major losses.

As of this week, there are 550,000 open vaccine appointments across the state according to Beshear. In a media briefing Thursday, the governor continued to encourage Kentuckians to sign up for a shot.

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