Pike County is currently “ahead of schedule” in its ongoing vaccination efforts, with local health officials saying that the county could move to the next phase by next month.

Pike County is currently in Phase 1b of its vaccination plan, which is based on the state’s vaccination plan. Phase 1b includes all Kentuckians 70 years old or older, K-12 school personnel and first responders. Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley said that the county’s ongoing vaccination efforts are going well, with first doses being administered to 17.9 percent of the county’s residents so far and second doses being administered to 9 percent.

“In comparison to the state and the nation, we’re really ahead of schedule,” Riley said.

At this rate, Riley said, Pike County could begin administering vaccines to frontline essential workers for Phase 1c by early or mid-March. Phase 1c includes Kentuckians who are 60 years old or older and anyone older than 16 years-old with highest-risk conditions for COVID-19 (as classified by the CDC) and all frontline essential workers. Kentuckians who are 60-plus are currently able to register for a vaccination, but the other populations that fall in Phase 1c — anyone older than 16 years-old with highest-risk conditions for COVID-19 (as classified by the CDC) and all frontline essential workers — cannot register for a vaccination yet.

Any Kentuckians who meet the criteria for Phase 1a, Phase 1b or anyone who is 60 years old or older can register for a COVID-19 vaccine at, pmcvaccine.com, or, arhcovid19.com. Phase 1a includes healthcare personnel, first responders and long-term care facilities.

A regional call center is available to help any residents of Pike, Floyd, Johnson, Martin and Magoffin who want to register for a vaccination, but do not have access to a computer. The center is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are four phone numbers that can be used to contact the call center, and they are: (606)437-3862, (606)437-3863, (606)437-3865, and (606)437-3866.

The vaccination phases consist of Phase 1a, Phase 1b, Phase 1c, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4. Phase 2 includes Kentuckians who are 40 years old or older, Phase 3 includes Kentuckians 16 years old or older and Phase 4 includes children under the age of 16 years old if the vaccine is approved for this age group. The state’s plan was developed based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Feb. 16, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the federal government has once again increased Kentucky’s vaccination supply.

“The Biden administration announced today they will send 13.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to states per week, up from 11 million last week,” Beshear said. “The administration will also double the number of doses sent directly to retail pharmacies. Next week, Kentucky is expected to receive 87,860 vaccine doses.”

Regarding the county’s COVID-19 cases, Riley said that the county continues to see decreasing case numbers and hospitalizations. The county’s number of active cases, in particular, has sharply decreased over the past few weeks.

As of presstime Feb. 18, Pike County’s total number of COVID-19 cases was 5,070 cases, with 419 of those being active cases. 4,600 people were considered recovered, and 51 Pike County residents have died from the virus so far.

Additionally, as of Feb. 18, there were 40 patients currently being hospitalized for COVID-19 in Pike County’s hospitals, with 10 of them being Pike County residents. Of those 40 total patients, 12 were in the ICU and seven required ventilators.

Although COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued to decrease this month, Riley noted, the total ICU occupancy rate for all patients was 92 percent, as of Feb. 18, and the ventilator occupancy rate was at 36 percent.

“The ICU (rate) is up, but COVID is not the specific cause,” Riley said. “ICU and ventilator occupancy is up, but as far as COVID-specific, those numbers have continued to decline.”

Statewide, Kentucky has seen an ongoing decline in new cases, and Beshear issued a statement on Feb. 17 regarding the decreasing numbers. He urged Kentuckians to continue holding its progress against COVID-19, and he said that it was too early to relax precautions. The counties with the most positive cases, as of Feb. 178, were Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton and Boone, with each reporting at least 40 new cases.

“We have made incredible strides against this evil virus, but we can’t let up yet,” Beshear said. “Even Kentuckians who have been vaccinated should continue to mask up, social distance and keep any gatherings small. Team Kentucky, we are so close to getting through this together, but we must remain vigilant and run through the finish line to slow the spread and save as many lives as possible.”

Local COVID-19 data is reported to the Pike County Health Department by local healthcare providers. They follow a stringent reporting process to the state, and each case is thoroughly reviewed. Therefore, the data will not match the state’s COVID-19 informational website, kycovid19.ky.gov.

For more information about Pike County’s cases, visit, www.pikecountyhealth.com. The Pike County Health Department is located at 119 River Drive, and it can be reached at, (606) 437-5500. For more information on the state’s vaccination plan, visit the state’s COVID-19 informational website, kycovid19.ky.gov.

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