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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.

Ky. Gov. Beshear Says Vaccine Pause Isn't 'Helpful'

Cory Sharber
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear discussed vaccine efforts in the region at the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Training and Education Center in Erlanger, April 14, 2021.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says the recent pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine isn't "helpful," but it shouldn't hinder the state's vaccine rollout.

The governor was in Erlanger Wednesday to congratulate St. Elizabeth Healthcare for administering its 100,000th COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, the CDC and FDA jointly recommended pausing usage of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after six reports of blood clots developing in people who were administered the single dose shot.

Beshear says the J&J vaccine makes up less than 5% of the state's vaccine allotment. Kentucky has set a goal to lift many restrictions once 2.5 million adult Kentuckians are vaccinated. Beshear says is still reachable with the amount of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on hand, but the pause is still concerning.

"The risk is so low," Beshear said. "It's six people out of 6.8 million. Meanwhile, one in every 558 Americans has died from COVID-19, so it's our job to push through any of the psychological or emotional impacts that the announcement has had."

The governor believes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be back in use by next week. The CDC and FDA are currently reviewing the six cases of blood clots.

Regarding the state's mask mandate, Beshear says the state will keep it in effect until it's safe due to concerns surrounding variants.

"But there is a day where we're not going to need to wear masks anymore, and do I think it's coming? Oh yeah, I do," Beshear said.

St. Elizabeth's 100,000th COVID-19 Vaccination

Credit Cory Sharber / WVXU
A registered nurse administered a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose during the press conference.

The governor was on hand to witness St. Elizabeth administer its 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine dose. Beshear says partners like St. Elizabeth are helping the state win its "war" against the coronavirus.

"We are in a race to defeat this virus as other states see a deadly fourth wave of COVID-19," Beshear said. "We must not let that happen in the Commonwealth. We need to vaccinate more Kentuckians, faster, which is what makes St. Elizabeth's 100,000th vaccine milestone so special."

Beshear says Northern Kentucky overall is doing a great job with getting people vaccinated, but he is noticing a little bit of a dip in demand.

"That doesn't mean people aren't willing to do it, it means we have to work that much harder to reach them, to educate them," Beshear said. "These aren't people who are saying 'no,' these are people that maybe are a little more casual about it. They need to know that this new variant isn't just infecting more younger Americans, it's hospitalizing them, too."

According to the CDC, Kentucky has reported at least 149 cases of the UK variant, also known as B.1.1.7. A study has shown that the variant doesn't lead to more severe illness or death, but is more contagious.

As of Tuesday, 1,586,411 Kentuckians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. In Northern Kentucky, at least 197,781 doses have been administered. The region has also confirmed at least 41,384 COVID-19 cases, which has led to 424 deaths.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.