Coronavirus Health

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state is monitoring about a dozen people who’ve travelled to countries with outbreaks of Ebola.

Beshear made the announcement during his coronavirus briefing Tuesday. Eleven people in Kentucky have traveled to either the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Guinea — both countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks. Beshear said health departments have been in contact with the travelers.

“And they assess their exposure risk, they educate them about what symptoms they might have, and they quarantine those at high risk for 21 days, though we have not had a single person in Kentucky that is at high risk,” Beshear said.

Beshear said that while coronavirus cases in Kentucky are declining, state officials are monitoring situations in two correctional facilities and one long-term care center. 

Coronavirus outbreaks in two Kentucky prisons have led to 628 active cases among inmates. Executive Secretary of the Cabinet J. Michael Brown said the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville has a serious outbreak. Kentucky has not prioritized vaccination of those in jails and prisons, even though the rate of infection and deaths for inmates is higher than that for the general population. Brown said shipments of vaccines for people incarcerated and over the age of 70 are expected to be shipped next week. 

Suhail Bhat | Ohio Valley ReSource

“All 14 of our institutions have now been enrolled as a vaccine distribution point,” Brown said. “And they are going to be targeted for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as we get supplies in, which means we’ll be able to start vaccinating inmates at all 14 of our institutions with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as it becomes available,” Brown said. 

Brown said vaccinations depend on when supplies arrive. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires just one shot, will be easier to administer, especially for people in jails who may be difficult to track due to transfers and releases.

Beshear said that an eastern Kentucky long term care facility is also dealing with an outbreak. But Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said vaccinations have made a difference among the 41 people who’ve tested positive there.

“Of these, four hospitalized residents were unvaccinated and one hospitalized resident has been vaccinated. So here, too, vaccination appears to have markedly reduced the risk of serious infection and hospitalization,” Stack said.

Beshear reported 819 new COVID-19 cases and 24 new deaths. More than 5,000 people in the state have died from COVID-19. Kentucky’s positivity rate is 3.8%. More than 1 million Kentuckians have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Corinne Boyer covers health issues for the ReSource from partner station WEKU in Richmond, KY.