Arrival of initial COVID-19 vaccine offers hope, members of Vaccine Distribution Task Force announced

December 15, 2020

 Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville’s Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer announced today the formation of a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force amid news that the first doses of the vaccine arrived in the city.

Comprised of representatives from Norton Healthcare, Baptist Health, University of Louisville Health, local community health centers, pharmacies, local employers, local insurers and scientific advisors, the task force will work with local, state and national partners to get the COVID-19 vaccine distributed throughout the city. Bill Altman, a consultant with the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness and the department’s Interim Medical Director Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage are co-chairs of the task force.

 “This is outstanding news and a victory for medical science,” Mayor Fischer said of the vaccine news. “While we have a lot of challenges and concerns to face right now in our city related to COVID-19, one thing that’s incredibly exciting and encouraging is that the vaccine will enable us to end COVID-19 in Louisville.”

Sharing his outlook on vaccine distribution, Altman stated that the hope felt is depended on vaccine supply amount, communicating about safety, efficacy and logistics. He said that similar to the testing task force that mobilized and brought community partners together to ensure COVID-19 testing sites and resources met city-wide demand, the same approach is being used to coordinate and collaborate the logistics of delivering a vaccine to the community.

“It’s going to take a community-wide effort,” Altman said. “From the hospital systems, our pharmacy partners and community health centers, the vaccine task force is designed to bring all stakeholders who are needed to have an effective plan to distribute this vaccine and bring it to all parts of the community.”

Dr. Hartlage echoed that sentiment to which she said the task force will be a useful tool in the early process of distribution indicating the importance of reaching healthcare workers and first responders in the early rounds. For other members of the community she said the goals are to make sure that allocation of the vaccine is as equitable as possible.

“We want to reach all corners of our community and help those who are at the highest risk for severe disease,” Dr. Hartlage said. “We certainly have the ability to give injections, but that’s the last step. We want to make sure we accommodate all the other steps in the process as well.”

While news of vaccine planning and distribution bring optimism, both the Mayor and Dr. Moyer stressed that a tall task awaits in communicating and educating residents about vaccine safety as misinformation about the virus and vaccine has spread the past couple of months.

“Let’s acknowledge historic factors that contribute to lack of trust among members of our community and establish a trusted voice on this issue, so that people are confident about taking the vaccine,” Mayor Fischer said.

Speaking further, Dr. Moyer stated that a secondary Vaccine Communications Task Force, which includes hospital representatives, nonprofits and other organizations will provide support in alleviating fears, sharing accurate, timely and easy to understand information across the community that will include instructions on where and how to get vaccinated.

“We know that allaying people’s fears means we need to speak to people in languages they understand and through mediums and messengers they believe in,” Dr. Moyer said.

Weekly COVID-19 Update

During the weekly COVID-19 update, Dr. Moyer reported that positive case counts of the virus were down to 3,561 cases added over the last week. Additionally, she added that the overall incidence rate had declined also.

Despite the encouraging signs, Dr. Moyer said she still holds concerns after Governor Beshear’s restrictions were lifted on Sunday.

“My advice to everyone is to act like the restrictions are still in place,” she said. “The virus is still spreading throughout our city.”

With news of a vaccine arriving in Louisville earlier, Dr. Moyer said that while reassuring, doses of the vaccine are trickling in and there isn’t enough supply to vaccine all of Louisville’s healthcare workers just yet, noting that their skills are needed at this time.

“Many of our hospital workers are already going to have to forgive any time off with their families because of the surge in cases we’ve had. They’re taking care of our friends, families and others who have been infected with the virus.”

Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for the week of December 15, 2020:

  • There were 3,561 new cases over the previous week.
  • Hospitalization data:
    • 20% of patients currently hospitalized have COVID-19.
    • 73 patients in ICU with COVID-19 as of December 15, a decrease from 91 the week prior.
    • 52 COVID-19 patients on ventilators as of December 15, compared to 54 last week.
  • COVID-19 cases are in every ZIP code and each of them is in the red.
  • Largest increase in cases is in the 20-44-year-old demographic at 42.2%
  • We’re seeing a disproportionate number of cases in our African American and Latinx communities. We continue efforts to provide resources for residents needing to quarantine and increasing testing capacity.
  • With high-level community spread, interactions with individuals outside the household put residents at a greater risk of bringing an infection home. Once a member of the household is infected, it is likely to spread to other members.

As Louisville heads into the holiday season, Dr. Moyer emphasized that now isn’t the time for residents to let their guard down and reinforced a message of washing hands, wearing a mask, limiting where they go in order to keep the community healthy, support the health care workers and get the city back on its feet.

“I know this year has been difficult on all of us, and the vaccine is offering us hope,” she said. “Let’s hang in there and keep doing what we know works. Please stay strong!”

First Responder Data

Currently, 55 members of LMPD, Louisville Fire, Metro EMS, Metro Corrections and the Sheriff’s Office are off-duty due to COVID-19:

  • 30 are off with positive tests and in self-isolation
  • 16 are off and quarantined due to exposure to someone who tested positive
  • 9 are off with symptoms, pending test results

 

Positive test numbers for first responders/public safety since the incident began:

  • 427 positive tests
  • 397 have fully recovered and returned to duty

 

Metro Corrections inmate data:

 

Total Tested: 4,622

Total Positive: 278

Total Recovered: 274

Total currently under medical isolation: 4

Total tests pending: 0

# # #

 

To view the entire COVID-19 weekly update with Public Health officials click here.The city’s COVID-19 data dashboard, a complete list of COVID-19 testing sites, information on symptoms, prevention and contact tracing can be found at www.louisville.gov/covid19. The LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline is also available: 502- 912-8598.

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