Coronavirus Blog

SPECTRUM NEWS 1 CORONAVIRUS BLOG

JCPS superintendent pushes for universal mask policy

BY Joe Ragusa

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio wants every school in the district to require masks for all students, staff, and visitors.

“The past two years, obviously, we’ve had to miss school days as a result of COVID,” he said. “And there is nothing more important to me right now — well, safety and health is first — but outside of that, nothing more important than making sure our kids are in school every single day this year.”

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Parents, community members sound off on masks at Fayette Co. school board meeting

BY David Guildford

LEXINGTON, Ky. — With Gov. Andy Beshear releasing new guidelines, but not mandates, surrounding mask-wearing in schools, school district leaders in Kentucky have looming decisions to make as their fall semesters rapidly approach.

The Fayette County Board of Education held its first in-person meeting since Feb. 2020 in a new, sprawling, multilevel district facility Monday evening. The fresh office carpet was christened with public comment as the first day of classes arrive on Aug. 11.

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Gov. Beshear asks schools to require masks

BY Joe Ragusa

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear gave school districts new guidance for dealing with the coronavirus Monday as classrooms prepare to reopen.

He wants districts to require unvaccinated students to wear masks and consider mandating them for everyone.

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Boone County Schools not mandating masks for students

BY Sam Knef

UNION, Ky. — School districts across the Commonwealth are trying to get everything in order as the new school year quickly approaches.

While many things have begun to return to normal, lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still creating challenges for schools.

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States scale back virus reporting just as cases surge

BY Associated Press

Several states scaled back their reporting of COVID-19 statistics this month just as cases across the country started to skyrocket, depriving the public of real-time information on outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in their communities.

The shift to weekly instead of daily reporting in Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota marked a notable shift during a pandemic in which coronavirus dashboards have become a staple for Americans closely tracking case counts and trends to navigate a crisis that has killed more than 600,000 people in the U.S.

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Kentucky rural health clinics getting a $6M+ boost

BY Haeli Spears

KENTUCKY — The Biden-Harris administration is sending $6,379,712 to Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in Kentucky for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials said.

The funds, which come from the American Rescue Plan, will go to 130 RHCs "who will use these resources to combat COVID-19 misinformation by developing and implementing additional vaccine confidence and outreach efforts," said a release from HHS. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), through the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) program, will administer the funds.

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Lambda COVID-19 variant not yet found in Kentucky, doctors say

BY Brennon Gurley

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As the COVID 19’s Delta variant continues to uptick across Kentucky, health experts are now closely monitoring a new emerging variant.

There’s the Delta, Alpha, Gamma – but now there’s yet another coronavirus variant.

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Kentucky's positivity rate tripled since the start of the month

BY Amber Smith

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky hadn't seen above 1,000 new coronavirus cases in months, but this week, the Commonwealth reached that as the more contagious Delta variant spreads.

Tuesday, the Commonwealth reported had 1,054 new cases. That's the first time there were more than 1,000 cases since April 7. It was also the highest single-day case number since March 11.

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Mitch McConnell urges Americans: ‘Get vaccinated’ as cases spike

BY Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell implored unvaccinated Americans Tuesday to take the COVID-19 shot, issuing a stark and grave warning of a repeat of last year’s rising caseloads and shutdowns if people refuse to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

McConnell urged Americans to ignore the “demonstrably bad advice” coming from pundits and others against the vaccines. As cases skyrocket, he noted that nearly all the new virus hospitalizations in the U.S. are among people who have not been vaccinated.

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WHO leader says virus risk is inevitable at Tokyo Olympics

BY Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by the tally of COVID-19 cases that arise because eliminating risk is impossible, the head of the World Health Organization told sports officials Wednesday as events began in Japan.

How infections are handled is what matters most, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a speech to an International Olympic Committee meeting.

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To mask or not to mask? Kentucky school districts weigh back-to-school plans

BY Amber Smith

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Will your kids be required to wear a mask when they return to school? That's a question many school districts across the Commonwealth will be deciding on in the coming weeks as cases rise across Kentucky.

A national pediatric group was the latest group to weigh in on this topic, contradicting guidance set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masking for students over the age of 2, whether they are vaccinated or not.

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Man on a mission: Pike County resident promoting vaccines

BY Brandon Roberts

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The number of new cases of COVID-19 is increasing as the Delta variant of the virus makes its way through communities, experts said.

Primarily affecting those that have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, the new strain has created localized hot spots, health experts explained. They believe those hot spots include pockets of dangerously low-vaccination rates among local populations.

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Fauci, Paul clash on virus origins, trade charges of lying

BY Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, angrily confronted Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday in testimony on Capitol Hill, rejecting Paul’s insinuation that the U.S. helped fund research at a Chinese lab that could have sparked the COVID-19 outbreak.



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COVID-19 cases more than doubled the last 3 weeks in Kentucky

BY Amber Smith

FRANKFORT, Ky. — COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Kentucky, more than doubling in the last three weeks. The 7-day positivity rate is now at 5.48%. For perspective, the 7-day positivity rate at the beginning of the month was below 2%.

During Gov. Andy Beshear's coronavirus briefing Monday, he asked Kentuckians to take additional precautions including:

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COVID-19 Relief Funds will help utility customers

BY Deborah Harbsmeier

LOUISVILLE. Ky. — Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the city is adding $2.5 million to its COVID-19 Utility Relief Program to help residents who have fallen behind on Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E) bills because of COVID-19.



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The state of essential workers in Kentucky

BY Adam K. Raymond
UPDATED 2:07 PM ET Jul. 19, 2021

At the start of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians learned that their jobs made them essential. As the months go by and the pandemic continues, many now say they don't feel so essenial any more. While employees are feeling the stress and strain, some of Kentucky's largest employers are benefiting from their front line workers. In a special series of reports Adam K. Raymond talks to essential workers about what the last year has been like and where these positions and companies are heading into the future as the pandemic continues.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It was around mid-March of 2020 that Mason Sims was first called “essential,” a label the pharmacy technician and cashier wore with pride.

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'It's not worth it to me:' How the pandemic is changing the jobs of essential workers

BY Adam K. Raymond

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Each day after she clocks in at a Central Kentucky clothing warehouse, and again before leaving, Caren Lamblin sanitizes her workstation. Even as safety protocols are relaxed — now that she’s fully vaccinated, Lamblin is allowed to work without a mask — it’s a ritual that lives on.

“It used to be, if you got a chance to wipe off your counter, great,” Lamblin said. “Now it’s the first thing you do and the last thing you do. It’s normal now.”

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COVID-19 on the rise inside Louisville Metro Corrections

BY Joe Ragusa

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, jails were a problem area of community transmission.

“Jails were not designed for a pandemic,” said Steve Durham, assistant director for the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.

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After local case bump, UK doctors talk vaccine importance, Delta variant

BY David Guildford

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Doctors within the University of Kentucky's hospital system hosted a discussion Wednesday to explain the Delta variant and the continued importance for Kentuckians to get vaccinated.

Speaking over Zoom, Dr. Becky Dutch, chair of UK's molecular and cellular biochemistry department, said the medical world expected variants early on in the pandemic.

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'It's not right': Essential workers got 'thank you' pay as CEOs got millions

BY Adam K. Raymond

LOUISVILLE Ky. — Financial struggles have defined the past 18 months for the Americans hit hardest by the pandemic, from those who couldn’t afford to bury their loved ones to those who saw their businesses crumble. But many companies deemed “essential” early in the pandemic have a different story to tell.

Not only did the biggest essential businesses in Kentucky survive during the pandemic, but they also thrived. In the second part of a three-part series on life as an essential worker in Kentucky, Spectrum News 1 looks at how the pandemic benefited three major Kentucky employers — Amazon, Kroger and UPS — and how those benefits flowed mostly to executives at the top.

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Two Louisville church leaders talk about the COVID-19 vaccine, their congregation

BY Eileen Street

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two recent church gatherings with unvaccinated people in attendance, one in southern Ohio and the other in central Kentucky, have been linked to COVID-19 outbreaks, which have led to some positive cases for Kentuckians. Spectrum News 1 spoke to two churches in Louisville, not affiliated with the recent gatherings or outbreaks mentioned, about the COVID-19 vaccine amongst their congregation.

Anyone walking into Lynnhurst United Church of Christ in Louisville on Tuesday could have received a COVID-19 vaccine shot.

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Ky. receiving $12M+ in federal funds for rural COVID response

BY Haeli Spears

KENTUCKY — Kentucky is set to receive $12,143,672 to support COVID-19 response efforts in rural areas, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The funding through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) will go to 47 small rural hospitals, which have fewer than 50 beds, in Kentucky for COVID-19 testing and mitigation, said the release.

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‘Essential’ no more: Kentucky front-line workers on life in the pandemic

BY Adam K. Raymond

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It was around mid-March of 2020 that Mason Sims was first called “essential,” a label the pharmacy technician and cashier wore with pride.

“A lot of employees recognized how essential our jobs were, but it was good to know the public was starting to realize it,” said Sims, who worked at a Lexington Kroger when COVID-19 hit Kentucky.

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COVID-19 outbreak after Baptist church retreat in Ohio

BY Pete Grieve
UPDATED 1:00 PM ET Jul. 13, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — At least 30 people contracted COVID-19, and more infections are feared, following a Baptist retreat attended by 800 people in Miamisburg, Ohio, local health officials announced Monday.

Camp Chautauqua became the site of the outbreak during a June 27 to July 3 retreat, according to Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County.

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Long lines one day, empty rooms the next at Louisville mobile vax clinic

BY David Guildford

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As hospitals and the city of Louisville closed down their large-scale vaccine operations this spring, the health department rolled out mobile clinics to try and reach pockets of the city with low vaccine numbers. Ciara Warren is the mobile missions director for the department.

“This is just what was needed to get more into the community and get those hard-to-reach folks and bring it to them,” she said during a Monday virtual interview. “Most of them don’t have transportation or access, so, we are trying to make it as easy as possible to bring them the vaccine.”

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JCPS updates its mask mandate for summer programs following new CDC guidance

BY Eileen Street

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There are new mask mandates at Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) for its summer programs to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

JCPS changed its mask mandates starting on Monday, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for school districts across the U.S., which came out on Friday last week.

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JCPS requiring masks for unvaccinated staff, students

BY Haeli Spears

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) students and staff who aren't fully vaccinated must wear a mask inside district property beginning Monday, July 12, following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

In addition, all students and staff on buses for summer programming must wear masks, despite vaccination status, according to an email from JCPS.

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Louisville Zoo waiting for COVID-19 vaccine for animals

BY Deborah Harbsmeier and Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Zoo has joined dozens of other zoos across the country in requesting a vaccine to prevent animals from getting coronavirus. Veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis, in New Jersey, produces the vaccine.



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Lexington woman wins $1M prize during first round of 'Shot at a Million'

BY Erin Kelly and Haeli Spears
UPDATED 4:00 PM ET Jul. 02, 2021

KENTUCKY — Gov. Andy Beshear announced the first round of winners in Kentucky's Shot at a Million drawings Friday. Patricia Short from Lexington won the $1 million prize.

“Congratulations to the winners! Their prizes are life-changing, and that’s on top of the COVID-19 vaccines, which we know are lifesaving,” said Beshear. “Please, get your vaccination as quickly as possible. If there are people in your life who might need some encouragement, tell them about your experience and then encourage them to sign up for their Shot at a Million.”

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Kentucky and U.S. likely to fall short of Biden's 4th of July vaccination goal

BY Amber Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s safe to celebrate the Fourth of July if you’re vaccinated. That's the message the White House is sending for the holiday weekend, despite the U.S. falling short of President Joe Biden’s vaccination goals.

In early May, President Biden set a goal to have 70% of all U.S. adults vaccinated by the 4th of July. It’s a goal the U.S. is unlikely to achieve in time.

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Kentucky's first drive-thru COVID-19 testing site closes

BY Jonathon Gregg

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It's the end of a foundational chapter in the fight against COVID-19 in Kentucky. UofL Health closed its Liberty Street drive-thru testing site, the first to open in Kentucky, on Wednesday.

On March 18, 2020, UofL Health opened the Commonwealth's first drive-through COVID-19 testing site. It is now closed.

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Kentucky saw short spike in vaccinations after Shot at a Million announcement

BY Amber Smith

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky saw a short-term spike in vaccinations for two weeks following Gov. Andy Beshear announcing the state's Shot at a Million sweepstakes.

The Shot at a Million was created as an incentive to encourage Kentuckians to get vaccinated. Beshear said it seems to have worked, and CDC data appears to agree.

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Beshear: Child care centers to receive $763 million in federal funding

BY Bryce Shreve

FRANKFORT, Ky. — More federal relief is headed to an industry heavily impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic: child care. Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that Kentucky has been awarded more than $763 million in federal funds to provide relief for child care providers in the Commonwealth, in turn helping families with young children.

In a press release, Beshear said the funding supports more than just child care.

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UK begins recruiting children for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trials

BY Adam K. Raymond
UPDATED 5:17 PM ET Jun. 16, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Kentucky has begun recruiting children between the ages of six months and 11 years old to participate in KidCOVE, a national trial for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are privileged for UK to be selected as a site for this important trial,” said Dr. George J. Fuchs III, chief of pediatric gastroenterology and vice chair of clinical affairs in the Department of Pediatrics at UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

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Shelbyville restaurant faces staffing shortage as COVID restrictions lift

BY Brennon Gurley

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — After more than a year of shutdowns and capacity limitations, Kentucky restaurant owners are now able to reopen fully.

Mitzi Tinsley is a waitress at Claudia Sander's Dinner House in Shelbyville. She tells Spectrum News 1, "It’s just hard to stay afloat. Its really hard to stay afloat. I’m behind on everything I have."

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'We are no longer in crisis.' Gov. Beshear signs order ending most COVID-19 restrictions

BY Bryce Shreve and Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday declared his state’s deadly fight against COVID-19 a “success story” as he prepared to end most pandemic restrictions, and said his state lessened the crisis because Kentuckians ultimately put science ahead of politics.

The Democratic governor lifted the statewide mask mandate for most settings and ended capacity limits for restaurants, bars and other pubic venues. The mask mandate for vaccinated Kentuckians has been lifted since May 13.

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Kentucky restaurants prep for return to full capacity, mask-free patrons

BY Brennon Gurley

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For the first time in a long time, bars and restaurants across Kentucky will return to seating guests at 100% capacity following lifting restrictions on Friday.

Chris Mike, owner of Goose Creek Diner and Gander in Louisville, said Friday has been a long time coming.

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COVID-19 vaccines in Kentucky: Where are we now?

BY Haeli Spears

KENTUCKY — Only a matter of months ago, COVID-19 vaccines were reserved for a small group of eligible Kentuckians. Now, 2,087,829 residents have been vaccinated as of June 7, according to state data. That's 47% of Kentucky's population.

At the start of Kentucky's vaccine rollout, supply struggled to keep up with demand. The opposite problem has taken over in recent months, causing vaccination sites both big and small to close up shop. However, a myriad of options remains for Kentuckians still waiting to be vaccinated. The state hosts an online map that lists over 500 COVID-19 vaccination locations in Kentucky, searchable by county. As well, vaccines.gov/search gives Americans a tool to find any one of the three FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines near them.

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Volunteers knock on doors to spread COVID-19 vaccine awareness

BY Crystal Sicard

LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the last two weeks, volunteers with the city of Lexington have gone door-to-door in different communities to spread the word about pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the area.

Laurent Vesely, a volunteer, has been knocking on doors for the past two weekends, encouraging Lexington residents to get their vaccine.

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Some criticize Kentucky's vaccine incentives as 'game show gimmicks'

BY Erin Wilson

KENTUCKY — Who wants to be a millionaire? Now, Kentuckians who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will have the chance to strike it rich with a shot at $1 million through a new vaccine incentive program.

Through Kentucky's "Shot at a Million" program announced by Gov. Andy Beshear Friday, three Kentuckians aged 18 or older will win a million dollar prize, while vaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds have a shot at getting one of 15 full-ride scholarships.

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COVID-19 took his breath. A double lung transplant gave it back

BY Brandon Roberts

LEXINGTON, Ky. — It was late January, and Dave Hoover thought he had a sinus infection. When his health kept getting worse, he went to an urgent care clinic and tested positive for COVID-19.

A week later, with his health not improving, the Stanford resident was admitted to Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville with bilateral COVID pneumonia. The former bodybuilder had always followed a strict diet and exercised regularly, which made his situation an anomaly, especially after spending weeks in the hospital, his health continued declining.

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Gov. Beshear hints at vaccine incentives. Here’s what other states are doing

BY Adam K. Raymond

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ohio has a weekly $1 million drawing. Maryland is giving out 40 prizes of $40,000. West Virginia plans to raffle off Ford F-150s. All of these incentives are designed to boost the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 and the early returns suggest they’re working.

Tuesday, Gov. Beshear hinted that something similar may be coming to the Bluegrass.

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Safety at the forefront as kids prepare for summer camp return

BY Evan Brooks

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Summer is here, and kids are returning to summer camps this year with COVID-19 protocols still in place.

Faculty and staff at the Barren County Family YMCA and Bowling Green Parks and Recreation (BGPR) will be required to wear masks at all times, but campers will still have plenty of activities to choose from.

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A yearbook like no other: Capturing the school year during a pandemic

BY Khyati Patel

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — A high school in Shelbyville is putting together a yearbook. Like many schools, the endeavor presents some challenges after a pandemic school year.

The reason? Much of the school year took place online, forcing the cancellation of several popular events.

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Kentucky lifts curfew, other limits for bars and restaurants

BY Joe Ragusa

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — People are eating out more, and Bearno’s co-owner George Timmering is reaping the rewards.

“We’re getting very close to being back where we were, from a sales perspective, before COVID,” Timmering said. “But I think once everything is in place and the staffing is there, we might be doing better.”

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UofL Health closes the book on Cardinal Stadium mass vaccination site

BY Erin Wilson

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The seven-week mass vaccination site at Cardinal Stadium has officially come to an end, but not before UofL Health could administer nearly 30,000 COVID-19 vaccines.

“It has been a great seven weeks, it's been an exciting time for us because every person that comes through here and gets a vaccine is definitely one more person vaccinated in our community which is what we really have wanted,” said Hugh Shoff, associate chief medical doctor at University of Louisville Hospital.

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Kentucky parent hesitant to get children vaccinated against COVID-19

BY Brennon Gurley

LEWISBURG, Ky. — With children aged 12-15 now cleared to get the COVID-19 vaccine, some Kentuckians are not convinced of its safety.

Jennifer Hayes said she's not an anti-vaxxer. Like several parents, all of her kids are up to date on all their other vaccines. But now, she doesn’t want anyone in her household to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Stands full of fans planned for games at Cardinal Stadium this fall

BY Bryce Shreve

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville will return to full capacity this fall in Cardinal Stadium, where the Cards will play seven home football games. In a statement to Spectrum News 1, UofL Athletics said advancements in state and national health guidelines will allow a return to full capacity, including popular pregame tailgating in accompanying parking lots, when UofL opens the home portion of its 2021 schedule against Eastern Kentucky on September 11.

“This is the news our fans have been waiting for,” said Vince Tyra, UofL Vice President/Director of Athletics. “We are back, my friends. We couldn’t be more excited to fill our house and welcome Card Nation back home. Get your tickets. Plan your tailgate. Bring your voice. Our football team and staff are so excited to see you. So am I. Let’s bring our Louisville Football life back to Floyd Street.”

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After more than a year, Kentucky will resume in-person prison visitation

BY Joe Ragusa

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Families of prison inmates haven’t been able to see their loved ones since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I want to see him but I understand why I can’t see him because they don’t want me bringing it in or them giving it to anybody, but it was hard,” said Lottie, the wife of an inmate.

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Wildcats expect return to 'traditional game day environment' at Kroger Field this season

BY Bryce Shreve

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Kentucky Athletics Department plans to open Kroger Field to full capacity for football games this fall, beginning with UK’s season opener against ULM on September 4.

Wildcats fans should also expect other popular activities and traditions to return this fall. Based on updated guidance from local and national authorities and current information available, UK intends to return to its traditional gameday environment for the 2021 season.

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UofL Health to require COVID-19 vaccines beginning Sept. 1

BY Haeli Spears
UPDATED 3:55 PM ET May. 26, 2021

Erin Wilson contributed the video portion of this story.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — All team members and providers at UofL Health — including residents, fellows and rotating students — will be required to be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Sept. 1, 2021. This includes all doses of a vaccine plus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended waiting time from the final dose.

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Mask mandates are ending, but some Kentuckians are hanging on to theirs

BY Adam K. Raymond

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nearly two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people should feel comfortable without a mask, not all Kentuckians are ready to leave their face coverings behind.

“I think I'm going to probably wear one until they say we've reached herd immunity in our state,” said Patty Haertel of Versailles.

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Kentucky reaches milestone with more than 2 million people vaccinated

BY Haeli Spears and Associated Press

KENTUCKY — As the U.S. reaches new vaccine milestones, Kentucky is making its own strides. On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 2,006,742 people in the Commonwealth have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“When you look at this, it is just a miracle,” said Beshear. “Fifteen months after the first case of COVID-19 in Kentucky, not only do we have effective vaccines, but we have 2 million people vaccinated. It’s really exciting."

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Thousands of Kentuckians have applied for FEMA funeral assistance. 39 have gotten it.

BY Adam K. Raymond
UPDATED 4:41 PM ET May. 25, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In the six weeks since the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began processing applications for its funeral assistance program, more than 2,600 Kentuckians have submitted applications in hopes of offsetting the costs of losing a loved one to COVID-19. Only 39 of those applications have been approved, according to numbers released by FEMA this week.

Tammy Simmons, whose mother Bettie Stevenson died last October, is one of the thousands waiting for resolution.

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Easing COVID restrictions, pools reopen: Here's a look at what's happening this week in Kentucky

BY Amber Smith

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Easing coronavirus restrictions, closing the largest mass vaccination site in the state and marking the kick-off of Memorial Day weekend. It’s shaping up to be a busy week in the Commonwealth.

The Fayette County School Board is expected to name finalists for the superintendent position. This comes following the death of Manny Caulk in December. The search for a new superintendent began in mid-January. Three to five candidates will be announced Monday before the public has a chance to hear from the finalists later this week.

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Sen. Rand Paul says he's not getting vaccinated

BY Bryce Shreve

KENTUCKY — Senator Rand Paul said on Sunday he's not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 because he's already had the virus.

Paul made the announcement on a conservative radio show Sunday morning, saying that he wouldn't change his mind until he sees evidence that people previously infected with COVID-19 contracting the virus again.

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Mask mandate stays in place at homeless shelters

BY Jonathon Gregg

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On June 11, the mask mandate ends in Kentucky, but not for everyone. Namely, the homeless population.

COVID-19 restrictions implemented by Gov. Andy Beshear last year are going away for most people on June 11. Homeless shelters are one of the exceptions.

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Shelby Co. Public Schools hosts drive-thru vaccine clinic for students

BY Brennon Gurley

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — As Kentucky continues to roll out and ramp up its vaccine efforts, school districts across the Commonwealth are also developing their plans.

Shelby County Public Schools parent Carrie Vail told Spectrum News 1, "we see it as an easy step to protect both our family and other people."

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Availability of walk-in COVID-19 vaccine appointments increasing

BY Brandon Roberts

LEXINGTON, Ky. — As the availability of the multiple COVID-19 vaccines increases, several pharmacies, facilities and health care providers have begun offering shots to people without an appointment.

The VA medical centers and their associated outpatient clinics in Lexington and Louisville have not required appointments for vaccines since late March for not only veterans but also their spouses, caregivers, partners and widows.

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Louisville Bats strike mask requirement for vaccinated fans

BY Bryce Shreve

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Taking your family out to the ballgame soon? If you're heading to Slugger Field to see the Louisville Bats, you may be able to leave the masks at home. The Bats announced that fans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 won't be required to wear masks inside the ballpark during home games.

However, the team said fans who have not been fully vaccinated "are still asked to wear a mask at all times unless eating or drinking inside the park."

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Cardinal Stadium vaccination site closing this month

BY Jonathon Gregg

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The last day for Louisville's mass vaccination site is May 28.

The final days of Louisville's mass vaccination site are here. UofL Health announced May 28 will be the final day of the large drive-through site. Vaccinations are still available, only now with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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Groups join forces to reach unvaccinated LGBTQ+, AAPI individuals

BY Ashley N. Brown

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Asia Institute and Louisville Pride Foundation partnered with Louisville Public Health and Wellness to co-host a vaccine clinic at the Crane House.

The two organizations invited the LGBTQ+ and Asian American Pacific Islander communities to receive a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

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Kentucky Supreme Court lifts most COVID-19 restrictions for state court system

BY Haeli Spears

KENTUCKY — Kentucky's court system is ending most COVID-19 related restrictions, Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. announced Tuesday. The changes, which are effective immediately, follow new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows fully vaccinated Americans to stop wearing masks indoors at most places.

“After the most challenging year in the history of the modern court system, I am pleased to announce that the Supreme Court has lifted most of the COVID-19 restrictions for employees, elected officials and those entering court facilities across the commonwealth,” Minton said in an internal communication to justices, judges, circuit court clerks and court personnel. “I am grateful to all of you for the perseverance and commitment to safety that allows us to begin transitioning back to normal operations for the Kentucky Court of Justice.”

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Simmons College latest in Kentucky to require COVID-19 vaccines

BY Amber Smith

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Another Kentucky school joins a growing list of colleges and universities across the country that will require COVID-19 vaccines.

Officials at Simmons College in Louisville made the decision last week to make COVID-19 vaccines a requirement for all students, faculty and staff for the fall semester.

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Business owners weigh whether to ditch COVID-19 mask requirements

BY Jonathon Gregg

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The CDC said vaccinated people can move about as they please without masks, but how will business owners know who is vaccinated, especially if they don't believe it's appropriate to ask?

Business owners across the country are wondering what to do about face mask requirements. In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear is lifting the mask mandate on June 11, which is more than four weeks after the CDC announced any vaccinated person can live their lives indoors without masks or social distancing.

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Free rides to vaccine sites made easy

BY Brandon Roberts

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Getting COVID-19 information to the people that need it the most is not an easy task, but Louisville-based nonprofit Kentucky Voices for Health (KVH) has made its mission to do just that.

KVH has been a voice of consumer advocates and a catalyst in health policy decision-making since 2007. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit and its nonpartisan coalition of more than 250 organizations and individuals aim to bring together advocates, community organizations, state agencies and policymakers to address the underlying causes of poor health by connecting Kentuckians with opportunities to make change through policy advocacy and information.

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CDC director: Mask guidance turnaround based solely on science

BY Associated Press

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday defended the decision to ease mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, stressing that increasing political pressure had nothing to do with the abrupt shift in guidelines.

“I’m delivering the science as the science is delivered to the medical journals. And it evolved,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on FOX News Sunday. “I deliver it as soon as I can when we have that information available.”

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Unmask Kentucky Rally: Some frustrated, others applaud Beshear's mask mandate decision

BY Ashley N. Brown
UPDATED 5:57 PM ET May. 15, 2021

One of the protesters was Karen Goss. Goss said she’s been following the science behind COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and thinks masks are useless.

"Masks don’t work. They never have. I’ve gone maskless since the pandemic began and I have not caught COVID. I have not been around others. I have not had any problems,” Goss said.

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Teamsters delivered the first vaccines. Now they're getting them

BY Adam K. Raymond

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In mid-December, when the first vials of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Kentucky, workers with Teamsters Local 89 played a pivotal role in delivering them from airplanes to arms.

“The people who took the vaccines off the planes and put them on UPS trucks were Teamsters,” said Avral Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer for the union that represents more than 16,000 workers in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. “The UPS truck drivers were Teamsters. We played a big role.”

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Louisville gym adopts new CDC guidance for vaccinated people

BY Michael Cadigan

LOUISVILLE, Ky — F45 Westport held its first slate of classes after the CDC handed down new recommendations regarding fully vaccinated people having the option to work out inside or outside with their mask off.

Joe Miday, the owner of F45 Westport, said Friday marked a new chapter for his members.

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Despite CDC mask news, small businesses proceeding with caution

BY Evan Brooks

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The CDC announced yesterday that fully vaccinated Kentuckians will no longer have to wear masks inside and outside. Gov. Andy Beshear also said the mask mandate will be lifted for all starting next month. Despite the new rulings, local businesses are not quite ready to fully allow no masks.

Matt Pfefferkorn, owner of Mellow Matt's and More, said his staff is fully vaccinated and he is putting his trust in the honor system in term of customers.

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LOCAL RESOURCES
Symptoms

The 2019 novel coronavirus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like:

  • cough
  • fever
  • trouble breathing and
  • pneumonia

The CDC believes symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.

(Source: NYS DOH)