FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's senior centers will reopen at full capacity starting June 11, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday in announcing the latest coronavirus-related restriction nearing an end.
The reopening date for senior centers will come on the same day that most of the state's COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The increasing number of vaccinations makes it safe to let Kentuckians gather once again at senior centers, the governor said at a news conference.
“These things are miracles," Beshear said of the vaccinations. "They have effectively ended death and hospitalization for the most vulnerable. They are saving lives every single day. And we’ve got to make sure more people get them.”
People entering senior centers will be required to follow county-level mask guidance, he said.
Closing Kentucky's nearly 200 senior centers for more than a year amid the pandemic “was a hard thing to do, but it was the right thing to do," the governor said. The virus ravaged Kentucky's older population, but now more than 80% of Kentuckians 65 and older have been vaccinated.
More than 2 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That includes almost 30,000 youngsters ages 12 to 15 who rolled up their sleeves for the shots since recently becoming eligible, the Democratic governor said.
While senior centers were closed, Kentuckians “stepped up” to ensure that services continued for senior citizens, Beshear said. That included a 200% increase in meal deliveries statewide, with 4 million meals served to seniors during the pandemic, he added.
“Senior centers worked with new community partners and local restaurants to eliminate a waitlist for meals," the governor said. "In other words, even though they were closed to the seniors coming in, they never stopped doing their jobs.”
Meanwhile, the state on Tuesday added 260 more deaths to its audit of virus-related deaths that had gone unreported in prior months, Beshear announced. The latest deaths discovered during the review spanned from March to October of last year, the governor said.
“Every Kentuckian lost to COVID needs to be recognized," he said. "It’s a family that is grieving.”
The governor on Tuesday reported 137 new virus cases and one new virus-related death not connected to the audit. Kentucky's COVID-19 cases have declined for four straight weeks.
“I think we’re now convinced that we are on downward trend, even if it is a small downward trend,” Beshear said.
The statewide rate of positive cases was 2.50%, the governor said.
Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.