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Beshear: Kentucky reports 2 cases of COVID-19 variant

January 27, 2021 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s governor praised the federal government’s promise of increased COVID-19 vaccine deliveries as he announced the state’s first confirmed cases of a coronavirus variant Tuesday.

The first two cases of the more aggressive virus strain that has been seen in the United Kingdom have been confirmed in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The governor spoke only briefly about the new variant, saying on social media that “we knew we’d see it” in Kentucky. Beshear didn’t offer details about the two cases.

The new variant “does spread more aggressively,” the governor said, adding that the state’s public health commissioner will discuss the development at a briefing Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, the Democratic governor welcomed the announcement that Kentucky will receive larger supplies of COVID-19 vaccines along with other states. Beshear, who has expressed growing frustration with the pace of vaccine shipments, called it “a great start.”

Another positive development is that the federal government is now guaranteeing a minimum supply of vaccine for three straight weeks, the governor said.

“One of the tough things that we’ve been dealing with is only knowing on a Tuesday what we would have the next week, and not knowing what we are having weeks after,” he said.

“This is going to help us plan, which is going to help our providers out there be able to plan,” he added. “It’s going to help us to be able to sign more people up for their appointments, knowing that we will have a certain amount in the future.”

President Joe Biden promised a roughly 16% boost in deliveries to states over the next three weeks.

As Kentucky has ramped up its vaccination campaign, demand has outpaced supply. It prompted Beshear last week to ask the federal government to double Kentucky’s vaccine allotment.

Beshear recently announced that Kentucky will partner with the Kroger grocery chain to create inoculation centers that will expand the groups of people receiving shots. The partnership will create high-volume, drive-thru vaccination centers statewide.

On Tuesday, the state reported 2,714 new COVID-19 cases, up from a week ago but down from two weeks earlier, the governor said. Beshear announced 35 more virus-related deaths statewide.

“We are still seeing really rough death counts from our significant escalation” of cases that the state faced late year and from a post-holiday bump, he said.

The rate of Kentuckians testing positive for COVID-19 dipped to 9.63%. More than 1,500 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including 391 in intensive care units, the state said.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.