Kentucky Again Tops Daily Record For COVID Deaths

Jan 21, 2021

Credit J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

  Kentucky has again broken its record for daily COVID-19 deaths, exceeding 50 for just the third time during the pandemic.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 58 deaths at Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing. He called the high number “staggering,” and said the state will place a memorial at the Capitol for those who have died.

“We’re going to end up placing an American flag on our grounds for every single individual that we’ve lost,” Beshear said. “As we move forward, we’re going to keep doing that. These are all children of God, loved by their families, needed by their community, and deeply, deeply missed.”

Kentucky’s COVID-19 mortality rate sits at about 1%, Beshear said. That’s less than the national and global averages, which are 1.7% and 2.2%, respectively.

“Still, if you have 3,000 plus people a day who are contracting this virus, 1% creates a really tough death toll,” Beshear said.

The governor announced 3,728 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. He said though the state needs case totals to decrease, it’s the lowest total for a Thursday in four weeks.

More than 1,600 Kentuckians are hospitalized, 395 are in the ICU and 209 are on ventilators.

Demographics for COVID-19 cases in Kentucky were also reported at the briefing. A slight majority of those who have contracted the disease have been women. The average age of someone with coronavirus in Kentucky is 42.3 years old. About 85% of people diagnosed have been white.

Deaths were evenly split between men and women. The average age of people who have died from the disease is 77.6 years old.

Throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 have disproportionately impacted Black populations. But Beshear announced Thursday that about 88% of all deaths have been white and 9% have been Black. Those percentages are similar to the statewide demographic makeup.

“Where we know race in terms of deaths, we have seen a major change since earlier in the pandemic when we saw huge disproportionate impacts,” Beshear said.

Inmates at Kentucky prisons have been hit hard by the virus. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Thursday that Kentucky’s inmate mortality rate is one of the highest in the country.

The inmate death toll rose to 42 this week, and the death rate for inmates is nearly five times the state average, according to the report.

Despite the high figures, Beshear said the state has not yet determined when inmates will receive the vaccine.

“One challenge we have is, in our prison system, we have a number of individuals that have significant health issues that could impact what type of overall outcome there is,” Beshear said. “We are looking, in terms of our vaccination schedule, where we would believe that we could get to these individuals. It’s something that we’re certainly watching. We’re doing our very best to separate populations.”

When asked if inmates could be included in tier 1c of vaccinations, Beshear said no decision has been made yet. He said inmates won’t go before people over the age of 65, K-12 personnel, or some other essential workers.