Kentucky Eases Restrictions as New COVID Shot Arrives

Kentucky will receive thousands of doses of the new Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. Governor Andy Beshear announced on Monday that the federal government shipped Kentucky 36,500 Johnson & Johnson shots this week, and additional doses will go to 130 pharmacies across the state.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this weekend. Unlike the other two versions, this vaccine only requires one dose, does not require hypercold storage and has a longer shelf life.

Beshear said on Monday that he expects the new shot to greatly increase Kentucky’s vaccination efforts. He stated that Kentucky will receive 700,000 first doses over the next month of all three shots combined. The state expects the high volume will result in a doubling of the number of people vaccinated.

Kentucky began vaccinating people in the 1C phase on Monday. That process should take several weeks as the group includes more than 1 million people.

Monday’s COVID report included 509 new positive cases, a 4.84% positivity rate, and 15 deaths. The state now has only 25 “red” counties. Beshear called the report the most optimistic since the beginning of the pandemic. Kentucky numbers have declined for seven weeks, with a 72% overall drop in new cases.

The falling numbers have Kentucky pulling back on some of the state’s current COVID restrictions. Capacity limits on most businesses will increase 10% beginning on Friday, March 5. That includes bars and restaurants, barbershops and beauty salons, fitness centers, funeral services, and government offices and agencies. The state recommends the same increase for places of worship.

“There are still mask mandates in place,” the governor stressed, “and the increase is only allowed if you can achieve it and still maintain that 6 feet of social distance.”

Additionally, child care centers will be allowed to return to regular group sizes on March 15.