Coronavirus Health

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced an expansion of federal aid for state hospitals and a request for more vaccine doses from the federal government on Tuesday as he reported 2,250 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Nearly 3,200 people have died from the virus in the Commonwealth. Beshear announced 27 new deaths Tuesday and the state’s positivity rate is down slightly to 11.5%. Cases have decreased compared to recent weeks.

More than 83,000 Kentuckians have received the COVID-19 vaccine, but demand has outpaced the number of the state’s allotted vaccine doses.

Beshear has requested that the federal government double the number of doses reserved for Kentucky.

“But right now and moving into the future, we’re going to be sitting around with entire days where we’ve already run out of vaccine waiting to get more from the federal government,” Beshear said. “This is our major challenge moving forward.”

Louisville’s hospital systems stopped taking vaccine appointments three days after making them available. More than 50,000 people are on the vaccine waiting list in Louisville.

Beshear also announced that hospitals will receive more reimbursement from Medicaid.

He said hospitals will receive an additional $800 million to $1 billion from Medicaid payments. Typically, Medicaid does not reimburse hospitals at the same rates private insurance companies do, and hospitals lose money as a result.

Kentucky Hospital Association President Nancy Galvagni said the new funding is vital.

“[F]or upgrading equipment, for retaining their employees and covering the cost of providing high quality care for their communities,” she said. “This could mean the difference between keeping the lights on and closing the doors to many of our hospitals across the state.”

Kentucky hospitals estimated more than $2.6 billion in losses in 2020 stemmed from COVID-19 pandemic.

Corinne Boyer covers health issues from partner station WEKU in Richmond, KY. Previously, she covered western Kansas for the Kansas News Service at High Plains Public Radio, where she received two Kansas Association of Broadcasters awards for her reporting on immigrant communities. Before living on the High Plains, Corinne was a newspaper reporter in Oregon. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and interned at KLCC, Eugene’s NPR affiliate. Corinne grew up near the South Carolina coast and is a graduate of the College of Charleston. She has also lived in New York City and South Korea.