FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky averaged more than a thousand new cases of the coronavirus the past three days, most of them from unvaccinated people.

What You Need To Know

  • 95% of new coronavirus cases reported since March are among unvaccinated people

  • The delta variant is causing more concern about the recent rise in cases

  • Gov. Andy Beshear introduced new recommendations, including mask wearing for the unvaccinated

  • 10 counties are now designated red zones, compared to zero on July 1

Gov. Andy Beshear said many of those cases are the delta variant.  

“Let’s be clear about the delta variant: it is the most aggressive form of COVID that we have seen,” he said. “If you are unvaccinated, it is the deadliest form of COVID that we have seen.”

The actual rate of the delta variant is about 28% in Kentucky, but Beshear expects that number to rise once more genetic testing is completed.

Since the beginning of March, 95.4% of cases come from unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated Kentuckians. They also represent 91% of all hospitalizations and 88% of deaths.  

“We have to go on with our lives, but we have to remember we’re in the middle of a pandemic and our actions have a major impact,” said Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.

10 counties are now considered “red zones” for new cases, a stark contrast to zero red zones on July 1.  

There are new recommendations for those counties, like postponing large events or moving them outside, and encouraging masks.  

“Don’t judge other folks for choosing to wear a mask,” Stack said. “We know it’s helped. We know it works.”

Masks are also encouraged for anyone who isn’t vaccinated, and even people who have gotten their shots but work in large public settings.

Beshear said new coronavirus-related restrictions aren’t off the table, either.  

“We’re not going to be afraid to make the tough decision if it’s merited,” he said. “It’s important to note and explain if we have to that our world is entirely different post-December 15 when we got the first vaccines.”

62% of adults in Kentucky are vaccinated, but the rate of vaccinations has been relatively flat for a while now. So how does Beshear or anyone else encourage those who haven’t gotten one to get one?

“If anybody has a really good answer to that at this point, I would love to have it,” he said. “But I think in seriousness, where we are is with how risky the delta variant is, we need every individual to make a few more efforts to talk to their friends and family.”

Beshear said the conversations need to be respectful, but if unvaccinated people still aren’t sold, friends and family may be the only people they listen to.