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Gov. Beshear: Multiple Ky. counties report new Covid-19 Omicron variant cases

Governor also provides updates on Western Kentucky storm response
(Governor Andy Beshear)
Published: Dec. 18, 2021 at 10:47 AM CST
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KENTUCKY (WFIE) - Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear gave a coronavirus update Saturday afternoon.

Gov. Beshear says multiple counties in Kentucky have reported it’s first cases of the Omicron variant.

The Governor says Gravity Diagnostics reported positive Omicron tests Friday to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. The positive tests were from patients in Kenton, Campbell and Fayette counties.

Beshear says wastewater testing by the University of Louisville and the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness also detected the omicron variant in Jefferson County.

Dr. Steven Stack from Kentucky Department For Public Health says the Omicron variant may be one of the most transmissible variants so far.

“The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is probably one of the most transmissible, or contagious infections we’ve ever had over the last century at least,” Dr. Stack says.

Dr. Stack also says Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are effective against the new variant. He is also encouraging people to get their booster shots.

“Now, you need to have that booster dose. It makes a huge difference. If you get a booster dose we feel very confident that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are gonna provide very good protection against severe disease and death against Covid-19, that’s the good news,” Dr. Stack says.

Ky. officials say, 17% of the state is fully vaccinated and have gotten their booster shot.

Dr. Stack continued by saying the disappointing news is that breakthrough cases will go up because of how effective Omicron infects people.

Officials including Dr. Stack and Gov. Beshear are encouraging people to continue wearing their masks to protect themselves against the new variant.

“I want to just emphasize what the governor said, school settings and places of employment, none of us want to go back to this believe me,” Dr. Stack said, referring to wearing masks. “Your health professionals are just as exhausted as much as you are, but this does work, it does lower the risk. Is it perfect? No, we never said it was perfect. Is it incredibly helpful and is there now a mountain of evidence that shows these reduce the spread? Absolutely.”

Gov. Beshear also provided an update on the relief efforts for areas affected by last Friday’s tornadoes during the briefing.

Gov. Beshear says currently, 78 Kentuckians have lost their lives from the deadly storm.

Beshear also says the missing persons total has gone down to zero.

Officials say FEMA assistance has been added to six new counties. Those counties are Christian, Hart, Hickman, Ohio, Logan and Lyon. Currently, FEMA is primarily in Dawson Springs and Mayfield.

Gov. Beshear says people can use the following options to apply for disaster aid:

1. Go online at DisasterAssistance.gov

2. Download the FEMA App

3. Call FEMA at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585

You can watch the full briefing here:

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