Frankfort, KY (STL.News) Gov. Andy Beshear said that his son, Will, tested positive for COVID-19 and is generally asymptomatic, adding that his son is fully vaccinated and recently received his booster shot. The Governor and the rest of the family tested negative for the virus. The Governor was tested twice today and said he will continue to be tested daily and follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Gov. Beshear joined today’s briefing remotely to provide an update on COVID-19 and tornado relief. He encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated and boosted if they are eligible.
“My son is generally asymptomatic, we believe because he is vaccinated and boosted,” said Gov. Beshear. “In fact, he is shooting basketball right now, by himself. The vaccines and booster truly protected him.”
The Governor said among Kentucky children ages 5 to 11, only 13.3% are fully vaccinated.
“Approximately 25% of new COVID-19 cases reported each day in Kentucky are children. Vaccination provides assurance that children can remain in school and protected against COVID-19,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “For parents who have not yet vaccinated your children, I encourage you to talk with your pediatrician. It’s important that you make an informed decision and have confidence that you are taking important steps to keep your children safe from this disease that has caused so much harm to our families and communities.”
COVID-19 Case Information, Vaccinations Update
Number of people who have received at least one vaccine dose in Kentucky: 2,842,876
Number of people who have received their vaccination booster in Kentucky: 1,002,347
Jan. 22, Cases: 13,797
Jan. 22, Deaths: 29
Jan. 23, Cases: 11,648
Jan. 23, Deaths: 25
New Cases Today: 3,912
New Deaths: 22
Today’s Positivity Rate: 33.06%
Current Hospitalizations: 2,326
Current Intensive Care Admittances: 440
Currently on Ventilators: 257
During the week ending Jan. 23, Kentucky reported 81,473 new cases, more than 9,000 more cases than the previous record set the week before. Also, during the week ending Jan. 23, Kentucky’s average positivity rate was 33.1%, nearly four points higher than the previous record set the week before.
Kentucky is still setting new records for both COVID-19 test positivity rate and new cases. Total COVID-19 hospitalizations are near the all-time peak during the delta surge and many hospitals in Kentucky are struggling.
So far, for every major strain of this virus, the vaccines have provided very high protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death.
Dr. Stack said for percentage of fully vaccinated people with a booster dose, in both adults 65 and older and adults 18 and older, Kentucky is leading Region 4 and is higher than the national average in both categories.
Dr. Stack added that all of us can help our health care workers and hospital system by not going to an emergency room just to get a COVID test. This overwhelms the emergency care system and makes the situation worse.
Tornado Response Update
The Governor provided an update related to the deadly tornadoes that occurred this past December.
The Governor reminded Kentuckians that the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund will next be used to add 20% on top of what the Federal Emergency Management Agency awards in individual assistance for uninsured homeowners and renters impacted by the storms. Checks should go out within the next two weeks. The number of Kentuckians who are eligible to receive FEMA benefits and the extra 20% includes at least 475 uninsured homeowners and 987 uninsured renters.
He said that, to date, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration have approved nearly $36 million in total federal assistance for survivors. This includes more than $10.7 million in FEMA assistance approved for individuals and households, including more than $7.6 million for housing assistance and more than $3 million for other disaster-related needs. Nearly $25 million in SBA disaster loans has been approved for homeowners, renters and businesses. The Governor reminded those who need to apply for FEMA assistance to do so by Friday, Feb. 11. To apply visit disasterassistance.gov, use the FEMA mobile app or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.
Regarding debris removal, the Governor said the extreme damage caused by the tornadoes will take a long time rebuild. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that more than 4.6 million cubic yards of debris existed and more than 1.1 million cubic yards have been removed for a total of approximately 24.5% debris removed thus far.
“Remember, we’ve got to dig in knowing that this is going to take a lot of time because of how destructive these storms are. Let’s not get frustrated, and let’s not attack those that are out there cleaning it up,” said Gov. Beshear. “It’s the level of damage that creates the length of debris removal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates more than 4.6 million cubic yards of debris and that is like nothing that most – of even them – have ever seen before.”
The Governor said that Kentucky State Parks are continuing to provide housing and food services for 352 displaced Kentuckians and 58 first responders. Anyone who would like to volunteer to help should contact Andy Kasitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Governor also said that FEMA has approved direct temporary housing assistance in six Kentucky counties: Caldwell, Graves, Hopkins, Marshall, Muhlenberg and Warren. FEMA is contacting survivors in these counties who applied for assistance and may be eligible for direct temporary housing options. The Governor said the state is working with data from Graves and Hopkins county officials, the American Red Cross and FEMA partners to assess the temporary sheltering needs of displaced families with school-age children in order to relocate them as close as possible to their school districts.
He announced that the Commonwealth Sheltering Program will make available 200 newly purchased travel trailers for these impacted families as an interim step in the rebuilding process.
“The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is working on the placement of the trailers right now and supporting the wraparound services,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are in the process of transporting and installing 10 travel trailers in Mayfield and 10 in the Dawson Springs area. That will mean 20 trailers will be hooked up and ready for families this week.”
The priority is to make sure all of the temporary travel trailers are ready to help displaced families with school age children as soon as possible.
Appalachian Communities: Apply for Community, Economic Development Grants
Gov. Beshear announced Monday that Appalachian communities can now apply for grants to help them achieve economic and community development goals.
The Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands is accepting applications in anticipation of receiving 2022 Abandoned Mine Lands Economic Revitalization, or AMLER, grant funding, previously known as the Abandoned Mine Lands, or AML, program. The deadline to submit an application is April 1, 2022.
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