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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Beshear Announces Plan For First Shipment Of Coronavirus Vaccine

Gov. Andy Beshear
J. Tyler Franklin
Gov. Andy Beshear
Gov. Andy Beshear
Credit J. Tyler Franklin
Gov. Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday how the first shipments of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine will be dispersed throughout Kentucky.

At his briefing, Beshear said he expects the vaccine to be available as early as Dec. 15. The first shipment will include about 38,000 vaccinations.

Two-thirds of the shipment will go to long-term care facilities through a program operated by CVS and Walgreens. The rest will go to hospitals for frontline healthcare workers.

“We’re going to make sure that those most vulnerable in long-term care, that make up about 66% of all deaths, have first priority, along with our healthcare workers that are in there caring for COVID patients right now,” Beshear said.

Only 11 Kentucky hospitals will be included in the first shipment. They include The Medical Center in Bowling Green, multiple Baptist Health sites, including the hospital in Madisonville, Norton Healthcare, University of Louisville and University of Kentucky.

Sites were chosen based on their ability to handle the minimum order of 975 doses, their state COVID-19 provider status and the availability of ultra-low cold storage required for the Pfizer vaccine.

Beshear said he expects Moderna’s vaccine to become available in the weeks following Pfizer’s first shipment, at which point more sites will be selected.

“Even if you’re not a part of this very first shipment, it’s exciting that there is a shipment – a shipment of a vaccine that looks to be about 94% effective,” he said.

Beshear also announced 3,895 new COVID-19 cases at the briefing. It’s the second-highest total of the pandemic, and the highest for a Thursday.

Kentucky also had it’s third-highest daily COVID-19 death toll at 34.

“Yesterday was our highest, and the day before was our second,” Beshear said. “We’ve had our three highest days of COVID fatalities all in a row. We’ve had 118 deaths since Monday alone.”

Hospitalizations also reached a new high at 1,810, an increase of 42 from Wednesday. More than 400 Kentuckians are in the ICU, and 240 are on ventilators.

Copyright 2020 WKU Public Radio

John Boyle is a reporter for WFPL, Louisville's NPR station. He previously spent three years covering Southern Indiana at a local newspaper before transitioning to radio, and has since made appearances on Here & Now and BBC Radio. Prior to his work as a reporter, John worked as a health care consultant at a firm in New York City.