Kentucky surpasses 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky surpassed 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths Monday, the latest grim milestone in the ongoing fight against the global pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear said.
The state’s rising death toll from COVID-19 reached at least 10,019, the governor said, calling it “nothing short of tragic.” In another sign of the virus’ deadly impact, COVID-19 ranked as the Bluegrass State’s third-leading cause of death last year and again so far this year, he said.
“My faith teaches me that each of these individuals is a child of God, irreplaceable to their family and to their community,” Beshear said in remembering those who died from the virus. “And every time we lose someone, especially this many people, it tears at the fabric of who we are.”
A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday on the state Capitol grounds in Frankfort to remember those who died from the virus, the governor said. The artist commissioned to create a pandemic-related monument will be announced at the service, he said.
The monument — to be constructed on the statehouse grounds — will honor the thousands who died from COVID-19 and the sacrifices made by Kentuckians, the governor said.
“It’s going to serve as a reminder to future generations of a time that we lost Kentuckians to a war unlike any that we had experienced,” Beshear said. “Losing more Kentuckians in a very short period of time than in any two or maybe even three wars in our history combined.”
Meanwhile, new virus cases last week in Kentucky were lower than the prior week, but the decline has slowed significantly from the rate in previous weeks, the governor said.
The rate of Kentucky residents testing positive for the virus has inched upward again. On Monday, the statewide positivity rate was 5.44%.
The governor urged Kentuckians to take steps to “protect yourself.” Among the unvaccinated, he said, that includes getting the COVID-19 shots. For the vaccinated, it means getting the booster shot when eligible. He has also urged people to wear masks when indoors in public places.
“We need to be cautious,” Beshear said. “We need to be humble.”
As of Monday, more than 345,000 Kentuckians have received a COVID-19 booster shot, the governor said. He has warned that hospitalizations among vaccinated Kentuckians are increasing over time as immunity likely wanes. But the unvaccinated still represent the overwhelming majority of new virus-related cases and hospitalizations.
The governor and his wife, first lady Britainy Beshear, received their COVID-19 vaccination boosters during a press conference last week. Beshear said Monday that his 11-year-old daughter had received the first dose of the vaccine, saying: I can’t tell you how relieved I am as a parent.”
Health officials have hailed shots for children ages 5 to 11 as a major breakthrough as the country enters a new phase in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a safe vaccine that is going to give her and will give your kids extra protection,” the governor said.
Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.