Kentucky is treading in the right direction as the number of COVID-19 cases reported in the state continue to fall, Gov. Andy Beshear said this week.
He attributed the fall in the case numbers to data indicating more Kentuckians continue to get vaccinated.
Following meetings of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee, Beshear and Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, provided updates on booster shots for the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Moderna vaccine series and the Pfizer vaccine series for children ages 5 to 11.
“In today’s report, what we see is just about everything is moving in the right direction and actually at a speed – the decrease in cases and in hospitalizations, ventilator use and ICUs – that is significant,” said Beshear. “It is a real trend, a positive trend. It has not plateaued. It is moving downward, which is reason for optimism. But our deaths, which trail cases and hospitalizations, ICUs and ventilators, remain too high.”
Stack provided updates about an antiviral drug being tested by Merck and the latest on booster shots. He said the drug, Molnupiravir, is an oral antiviral that could be used to treat COVID-19 patients soon after they test positive and start displaying symptoms.
“The preliminary data that Merck provided showed, in a sample size of a little over 700 people, about a 50 percent reduction in those who had mild to moderate COVID from progressing to severe COVID,” he said. “This was an early finding in the research, but it was so compelling and statistically reliable that they decided to go forward and ask the FDA to review it for approval.”
If approved, availability will be limited starting in December, he noted.
Stack also said available data supports the safety and effectiveness for a booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after completion of the initial series for those ages 65 and older; ages 18 to 64 at high-risk for severe COVID-19; or ages 18 to 64 with heightened job and institutional COVID-19 exposure risk.
The FDA advisory committee also discussed a vaccine booster for people who took the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Dr. Stack said available data supports the safety and effectiveness of a Johnson & Johnson booster for people 18 and older at least two months after their initial vaccination.
Following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA, on Sept. 27, the Governor recommended Kentuckians who received the Pfizer vaccine series get a booster if they are at high risk of severe COVID-19 or work in high-risk settings.
The latest case numbers available for the area include:
Mason County — 2,851 total cases, 97 active, 64 deaths.
Robertson County — 369 total cases, 8 active, 16 deaths.
Bracken County — 1,206 total cases, 209 active, 120 deaths.
Lewis County — 2,620 total cases, 56 active cases, 565 deaths.
Fleming County — 2,229 total cases, 23 active, 34 deaths.
Adams County, Ohio — 4,133 total cases, 92 deaths.
Brown County, Ohio — 6,299 total cases, 87 deaths.
Four of five counties in the Buffalo Trace Area — Mason, Fleming, Lewis and Robertson — have moved out of the Red Zone and into the Orange Zone with only Bracken County remaining Red.