‘Fighting for Change’: Life as a Black Artist

This article is part of our latest Fine Arts & Exhibits special report, about how art institutions are helping audiences discover new options for the future.

“Fighting for Change: Fist Full of Tears,” the title of one of the five works Jamel Robinson is showing at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, N.Y., encapsulates the artist’s love of wordplay as well as philosophy about what it means to be a Black man making art in America.

The piece is a pair of boxing gloves covered in black paint and pennies mounted on a large black, green and white canvas.

“As Black people we’re fighting for change, and as a Black artist, we’re always trying to move forward — it always feels like we’re fighting for change and sometimes literally for change,” said Mr. Robinson, 42, who was born and raised in Harlem.

He is the teaching artist-in-residence at the museum in conjunction with the “African American Art in the 20th Century” exhibition, which includes 43 works by some of the country’s most famous Black artists. Mr. Robinson’s first museum show and the 20th Century exhibition will run concurrently from Oct. 15 through Jan. 16.

The Hudson River Museum will be the fifth and last museum to host “African American Art in the 20th Century,” a smaller touring exhibition of a show that was originally curated and exhibited by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2012.

The Yonkers museum jumped at the chance to show such acclaimed artists as Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, as well as those lesser known to a broader community.

“We’ve been talking for three or four years, and when we were offered the opportunity to be a part of the tour, there wasn’t even a discussion — it was such a unique opportunity,” said Laura Vookles, chair of the museum’s curatorial department. “It’s pretty much a who’s who of African American art and really of major American artists in general in the 20th century, some of whom were greatly admired in art circles during their lifetime and others who have been rediscovered.”

When visitors first enter the two-room, 3,500-square-foot gallery space, they will be greeted by “Moon Masque,” a striking multicolored oil and collage work by Loïs Mailou Jones, who was born in Boston in 1905 and died in Washington in 1998. Created in 1971, it was influenced by her first trip to Africa the year before; in the center is a papier-mâché replica of a mask from Zaire, surrounded by mask-like profiles.

This piece touches on many aspects of the exhibition, Ms. Vookles said. Ms. Jones comes out of the Harlem Renaissance tradition and then, like many artists, she also turned to the art of Africa for inspiration.

The concept of masks also runs throughout the show, “things that are open and closed, hidden and protected and revealed,” Ms. Vookles added. “And I also really loved it that we could highlight a woman artist.”

The original exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum included 100 works, half of those photographs. The photographs couldn’t tour because of concerns about light exposure, said Virginia Mecklenburg, the museum’s chief curator; the catalog, including the photographs, however, is available with the Hudson River Museum exhibition.

“It was very important to me to include work by artists who were not household names,” Ms. Mecklenburg said. It was also vital that visitors see a wide variability of work, “so they will understand there isn’t any such thing as ‘African American art.’ There are African American artists who work in a huge range of medium.”

The Hudson River Museum show runs somewhat chronologically; one of the earliest pieces in the exhibition is Palmer Hayden’s “The Janitor Who Paints,” from around 1930. Mr. Hayden, who died in 1973, shows a Black man painting in a cramped apartment, a trash can in the foreground, while a woman nearby holds a baby. Mr. Hayden has said the subject is a friend who, like himself, was an artist who supported himself as a janitor.

“If you were Black and you were a painter and probably supporting yourself with another job, people were not calling you an artist — they were calling you the janitor,” Ms. Vookles said.

That work hangs next to Hughie Lee-Smith’s “The Stranger,” painted in the late 1950s, which features a lone man — his race is not clear — isolated in a rural setting of hillsides and farmhouses. “There is this dichotomy of the urban and rural and you can feel isolated out in the country, but can also feel isolated in the city,” Ms. Vookles added.

Much of the abstract art is grouped toward the end of the exhibition as “that was its own story,” she said. “A lot of people wanted to box artists in and say you should be painting Black subjects, and part of freedom for those artists was the freedom to do any kind of art that they wanted to do.”

That was true of Norman Lewis, whose 1962 painting “Evening Rendezvous” is both abstract and deeply political. At first glance, it is merely dabs and amorphous shapes of red, white and blue on a green-gray background, but a closer look reveals that the white smudges, are, in fact, hooded Klansmen.

One of Mr. Robinson’s favorite pieces in the show is by Renée Stout, one of the few living artists whose work is in the exhibition. “The Colonel’s Cabinet,” created between 1991 and 1994, is an installation piece — a cabinet filled with objects from a Colonel Frank, an explorer the artist created.

The cabinet contains what can be perceived as a jumble, but are items actually methodically made and placed by the artist, such as photos, maps, statuettes, a musical instrument, a small skull. “I wanted to evoke the same feeling in the viewer that I have when I encounter an ethnographic piece — a sense of mystery. What do these objects mean?” said Ms. Stout.

For Mr. Robinson, the work resonates deeply, reminding him of his grandmother’s apartment in Harlem and her collections.

“It might not look intentional at first glance, but you know everything is placed there for a reason, for you to ask questions about it,” he said. “I think that’s my favorite thing about art — does this thing leave me with the opportunity to ask questions, or is it already giving me all the information?”

Mr. Robinson’s show of five works includes “Fighting for Change: Fist Full of Tears” (the latter half of the name comes from the title of a song by his friend, the singer-songwriter Maxwell) and one made specifically for the exhibition, entitled “Beauty from Ashes”; the show carries the same title. It consists of sand, a small flag and cross, and 6,000 pennies all mounted on a 48-inch by 72-inch wooden canvas.

The work has multiple layers of meaning, Mr. Robinson said: the pennies represent the devaluation of African Americans, who are overlooked, much as pennies themselves are. Enslaved African Americans had to cross sand when taken to America and came to this country penniless, forced to work and labor and then left without resources. The flag and cross demonstrate how the country and religion have oppressed people, but “these iconic symbols are not all bad,” he said. “They’ve been used in the wrong way.”

Ms. Stout said Mr. Robinson’s work continues the Smithsonian show’s significance of nine years ago.

“He represents the reality that a younger generation of artists continues to embrace abstraction and challenge the notion of what ‘Black art’ is supposed to look like,” she said. “The ways we create and express ourselves are as diverse as we are as people.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

‘Why Does it Have to Be Slaveholders That We Unite Around?’

… unless you know what African Americans, Indigenous people, poor whites … that involves Native Americans, African Americans, British merchants back … with disgusting comments about African Americans that are on … dent in things like racism and misogyny, because … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

MSNBC Claims Anti-CRT Laws Promote ‘Lost Cause’ Narrative

… restrict how the history of racism and slavery is taught … that mean? Fear that your African-American neighbor is going to … Keith Mayes, a professor of African-American studies at the University … that mean? Fear that your African-American neighbor is going to … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

The 2021 “Soul Train Awards” Presented By BET Returns November 20, For The First Time From The World Famous Apollo

New York, NY (Top40 Charts) The BET announces the return of the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” from a new location, the World Famous Apollo in New York. For the first time in its 33-year history, the annual celebration will tape in New York City, joining forces with the non-profit Apollo, now in its 88th year and widely considered the soul of American Culture, for one of its first in-person events in 2021. Celebrating the best in soul music and the television show’s 50th anniversary, the “Soul Train Awards” recognizes the best in Soul, R&B, and Hip Hop from both established industry legends and the next generation of promising artists. The 2021 “Soul Train Awards” premieres Sunday, November 28 at 8 pm ET/PT on BET and BET Her.

“Don Cornelius’ brilliant vision created a revolutionary show that became a cornerstone in American culture. Fifty years later, the Soul Train Awards continues to amplify his powerful message of Love, Peace & Soul to a global audience,” said Connie Orlando, EVP Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy. “We are honored to be a part of the Soul Train legacy and partner with the national treasure that is the Apollo to celebrate Black excellence and culture with one unforgettable night of can’t miss moments.”

“The Apollo has long been a center of Black cultural and creative innovation for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world. It has provided a platform for Black artists at all stages of their careers, and a gathering place for audiences to express themselves freely,” said Apollo Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes. “The Apollo is thrilled to partner with BET to host the Soul Train Awards, bringing together three iconic brands that represent Black culture and excellence under one roof. This is an occasion to celebrate, and we look forward to the incredible performances that will light up our stage during the Soul Train Awards.”

Connie Orlando, EVP Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy will oversee the annual show, with Jamal Noisette to Co-Executive Produce for BET. Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment, to serve as Executive Producer of the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” along with Jesse Collins Entertainment’s Jeannae Rouzan-Clay.

BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African American audience. The primary BET channel is in 125 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience; BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Moving the Jefferson statue from City Hall — and erasing history — is a big mistake

One of our nation’s gravest sins was the unconscionable owning of slaves. That practice has left a legacy of racial disparities and discrimination. Yet our unvarnished past, for better or worse, is a prologue to the future: Learning from it can help shape our course forward.

Unfortunately, Mayor Bill de Blasio has sought to have a statue of Thomas Jefferson booted from City Hall, where it has stood for 187 years, because America’s third president owned slaves. This accomplishes nothing and could actually do more harm than good. Yet on Monday, the panel he tapped to make the decision voted to move the figure from its current location by year’s end, though it’s not clear where.

Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, lawyer, architect, musician, philosopher and Founding Father. He was an author of the Declaration of Independence. At a dinner for Nobel Prize winners, President John Kennedy joked, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Jefferson was responsible for the deal that created the Louisiana Purchase and thereby doubled the size of the United States. He founded the University of Virginia.

According to the Borgen project, Jefferson and other Founding Fathers addressed issues we still consider important today: He supported poor houses to help people in need and believed in better health care. Though he praised self-reliance, he also knew people sometimes need help.

And, of course, it was Jefferson who wrote that all men are created equal with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Yes, Jefferson owned 400 slaves on his property and another 200 on other properties. He also had a relationship with Sally Hemings, a mixed-race enslaved woman with whom he fathered at least six children.

a statue of Thomas Jefferson, right, stands in New York's City Hall Council Chamber
The Thomas Jefferson statue will be removed from City Hall by the end of the year.
AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

Clearly, he had great achievements and flaws. But removing a statue doesn’t change history. Rather, its presence can trigger useful discussion, while hiding it destroys that opportunity.

Should we take the chapter about the presidency of Thomas Jefferson out of the books? Should we ban books about him? That would be crazy: Children need to learn about people who contributed so much to this country, flaws and all.

Perhaps the mayor should have a contest for students and ask them to write an essay about their views of Jefferson and whether removing a statue solves any problems or simply silences a debate about what history presents to us. I want my sons to have a rounded view of history. I hope I have taught them to make their own calculations of the good and the bad.

Through 1865, according to Wikipedia, 12 presidents owned slaves. Should we look to see if there are statues of them somewhere — including George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James Polk, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson and Ulysses Grant — that need to be moved?

Statue of Thomas jefferson in the City Council chamber.
Removing a statue doesn’t change history.
William Farrington

Some of them freed their slaves; others didn’t. Some achieved greatness in their periods, which made this a greater country. What the norm is at one point in time is not necessarily, in retrospect, justifiable. Yet erasing this period of time does not educate our citizens.

Sweeping the history of flawed presidents under the rug shuts out significant chapters of broader US history. The freedom to speak and discuss, the First Amendment, is the essence of our democracy. Yet free speech is enhanced by educated speech. Facts matter. On the basis of facts, I believe that Thomas Jefferson’s statue should remain in City Hall.

Democracy demands enlightened citizens. It is a blessing and a burden. Unfortunately, some of our leaders appear to believe that our citizens are not capable of handling complicated issues and thus cannot be enlightened. That’s arrogant and elitist.

Fact is, we’ve come a long way since the terrible evils of slavery. We’ve elected an African-American president, Barack Obama, and numerous minority lawmakers. The city is about to elect its second African-American mayor, Eric Adams, who I believe will be a great mayor. Yet that kind of enlightened view from voters will be less likely if we keep erasing history.

Andrew Stein, a Democrat, is a former New York City Council president, Manhattan borough president and state Assembly member. 

Colin Powell embodied the ‘two-ness’ of the African American experience

Colin Powell knew where he fit in American history.

The former secretary of state—who died on Oct. 18, 2021, at 84 as a result of COVID-19 complications— was a pioneer: the first Black national security advisor in U.S. history, the first Black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and also the first Black man to become secretary of state.

But his “American journey”—as he described it in the title of a 2003 autobiography— is more than the story of one man. His death is a moment to think about the history of Black American men and women in the military and the place of African Americans in government.

But more profoundly, it also speaks to what it means to be an American, and the tensions that Colin Powell —as a patriot and a Black man— faced throughout his life and career.

I’m a scholar of African American studies who is currently writing a book on the great civil rights intellectual W.E.B. DuBois. When I heard of Powell’s passing, I was immediately reminded of what DuBois referred to as the “double-consciousness” of the African American experience.

As DuBois put it in an 1897 article and later in his classic 1903 book “The Souls of Black Folk,” this “peculiar sensation” is unique to African Americans: “One feels his two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

This concept profoundly describes Colin Powell as a soldier, a career military man, and a politician.

What it means to serve

On the surface, Colin Powell’s life would seem to refute DuBois’ formulation. He stood as someone that many people could point to as an example of how it is possible to be both Black and a full American, something DuBois viewed as an enduring tension. There is a narrative that Powell used the military to transcend race and become one of the most powerful men in the country. In that sense, he was the ultimate American success story.

But there is a danger to that narrative. Colin Powell’s story was exceptional, but he was no avatar of a color-blind, post-racial America.

The U.S. Army has long been seen as a route for Black Americans, especially young Black men, out of poverty. Many chose to turn their service into a career.

By the time Powell, the Bronx-raised son of Jamaican immigrants, joined the U.S. Army, there was already a proud history of African Americans in the U.S. military—from the “Buffalo Soldiers” who served in the American West, the Caribbean and South Pacific after the U.S. Civil War to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.

Powell was part of that military history. He joined in 1958, a decade after desegregation of the Armed Forces in 1948.

But the military was—and still is—an institution characterized by structural racism. That was true when Powell joined the Army, and it is true today.

As such, Powell would have had to wrestle with his Blackness and what it meant in the military: What did it mean to serve a country that doesn’t serve you?

As a military man during the Vietnam War, Powell also stood apart from many Black political leaders who condemned U.S. action in Southeast Asia.

While Muhammad Ali was asking why he should “put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people” at a time when “so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights,” Powell was making his way up the military ranks.

It helps explain why despite Powell’s undoubted achievements, his legacy as a Black leader is complicated. His identity—being of Jamaican heritage—posed questions about what it means to be an African American. His life in the military prompted some to ask why he would serve a country that has historically been hostile to non-White people in the U.S. and around the world.

The veteran activist and singer Harry Belafonte likened Powell in 2002 to a “house slave” in one particularly contentious remark questioning his loyalty to the U.S. system.

Powell acknowledged the realities of racism in the U.S., while at the same time believed it should never serve as an obstacle nor cause Black people to question their American-ness. In a May 14, 1994 commencement speech at Howard University, Powell told graduates to take pride in their Black heritage, but to use it as “a foundation stone we can build on, and not a place to withdraw into.”

Colin Powell, seated behind a microphone and 'United States' nameplate speaks to the United Nations Security Council.
Colin Powell addresses the United Nations Security Council. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

And then there are his political affiliations. He was Ronald Reagan’s national security advisor and George H. W. Bush’s chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at a time when the domestic policies of both presidents were devastating Black America, through mass incarceration of Black men and women and economic policies that stripped services in lower-income areas.

That was before one of the most consequential and controversial moments in Powell’s political life.

In February 2003, Powell argued before the United Nations Security Council for military action against Iraq – a speech that erroneously claimed that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. He hadn’t, and the war that Powell helped steer the U.S. into scars his legacy.

A complicated existence

Powell’s two-ness, to use the DuBois phrase, manifested later in his decision in 2008 to endorse Barack Obama as presidential candidate over his fellow Republican and military man, John McCain.

In Obama, Powell saw “a transformational figure” in America and on the world stage.

In endorsing Obama, Powell chose the historic significance of the U.S. having its first Black president over loyalty and service to his friend and political party.

His drift from Republicanism furthered after Donald Trump seized the reins of the party. He became increasingly vocal in opposing Trump, who saw Powell—as did many of Trump’s supporters—as something of a traitor.

That view ignores the history.

Powell was a patriot who embodied DuBois’ “two warring ideals in one dark body.” For Powell to have reached the heights he did required dogged strength and perhaps far greater effort to hold it together than his White predecessors.

In America, being Black and a patriot is—as DuBois hinted at more an a century ago, and as Powell’s life attests to—a very complicated, even painful, affair.

Chad Williams, Samuel J. and Augusta Spector professor of History and African and African American Studies, Brandeis University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

‘Reason for optimism’: COVID-19 cases in Kentucky drop 4th week in a row

‘Reason for optimism’: COVID-19 cases in Kentucky drop 4th week in a row

right. It is monday it is time for our regular covid update. Let me first start by recognising the sad news that America lost uh, an incredible hero today and general Colin Powell, ah General Powell, his service is well known by all americans. Tomorrow we are ordering our flags to half staff and that’s going to be lowered until sunset on friday october the 22nd pinnacle of his career. General Powell served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff from 1989 to 1993 and US Secretary of State from 2000 and 1 to 2005. We encourage and ask businesses and organizations throughout the commonwealth to join these tributes and to lower their flags as well. On a personal note, uh, my mom sat on a nonprofit alliance with general pal and said personally he was as incredible as most of us believed him to be from his public service. His family also released a statement talking about the fact that he was lost too. Um, To, to COVID-19 or at least um in part and how critical it is that everyone get vaccinated not just for themselves but to protect those around them. That would include General Powell who suffered from some conditions that made him more susceptible. We are losing a lot people both in Kentucky and around the country in this pandemic and each one is amazing to their family, to their community. Let’s make sure that we do not lose more than we have to. So in today’s report, what we’re gonna see is is um, just about everything is moving in the right direction. Uh, and actually at a speed that um, the decrease in, in cases and in hospitalizations, ventilators and ICUs is significant. It is a real trend. It’s a positive trend. It has not plateau. It is moving downward, which is reason for optimism. But our deaths, which trail cases and hospitalizations, I see use and ventilators are still very high. In fact, over the three days we’re reporting on today, saturday sunday and today monday We’ve lost 103 additional Kentucky ins. So Saturday’s report, 1751 new cases, 50 new deaths. That is a tough day in the Commonwealth. We continue to lose people under 50 years old at such a higher rate than at any time previous in the pandemic. We lost a 46 year old man from Floyd County, a 46 year old woman from Heart County, a 45 year old man from Rowan county and a 49 year old man from Warren County. That were recorded in saturday’s report. We moved to Sunday 827 cases, 22 new deaths. They included two women in their forties. In Hardin County. Actually, there were eight Hardin County deaths, Some of them catching up, but all of them from the delta variant time period, but a 40 year old woman and a 47 year old woman, both from Harden County And a 49 year old woman from Marshall County. And then we hit today 678 new cases, 31 new deaths, those include a 46 year old man from Allen County and a 49 year old man from Warren County. Ah But some of today’s numbers are much better than what we have seen in weeks. Our positivity rate now down to 7.36%. That is a significant drop. Remember? Uh, we were always worried at 5%. So it’s still too high. But it is good that it’s dropping and we’ll show you the rate in a minute that it is dropping 1001 193 Kentucky and is currently hospitalized with Covid 19, 337 in the ICU 219 on a ventilator. We’ll show you how all these trends are moving in the right direction. Let’s start with our stair stepper. On cases, I was um excited to see some of these numbers, especially the last two weeks, we hit a point in time in this decline where it looked like we could potentially plateau. The plateau. If it was at the rate three weeks ago, would have been far too high for us to sustain. It would have been far too high for our hospitals to continue. Would have resulted in amounts of death that we only saw back in the major surge in the fall and in the winter, but we continue to decrease now um, at a case rate from the last two weeks below the highs that we had in the fall and winter search if we continue to see these numbers come down at the rate that they are, we will be in a much better place within a month or so. What we’d like to see is this uh continue at this very significant rate notice um the fall, the plunge from the peak is moving faster than at any time during the pandemic including um when we were first able to begin vaccinating folks. But um the the trick, the thing we’ve got to work towards is making sure we can keep it down uh and not see another surge again. Uh James or jim. You want to show the week by week that we normally do the second. Yeah. So this is just another way um when we, when we focus in a little closer on the delta variant time itself, removing everything else. And you noticed there was just slight variation on the, on the decrease. If you looked three weeks ago, that’s when we were worried, it might have been flattening out a little bit at the rate of decrease, but that hasn’t been the case. This is good news. Uh positivity rate also very positive News. The rate decreasing now to under 8% and what we’re seeing are real drops week after week. Again we want to see this trend continue and if we zoom in on just the time period for uh the delta variant. The decrease isn’t quite the slope isn’t quite as severe. Um As as the exponential rise. But uh this is a faster drop I think that we’ve seen at any other point during the pandemic um in positivity rate. Week after week. Let’s look at the charts that really means something to our loved ones. Let’s look at hospitalizations. Again a strong downward trend now below the hospitalizations we saw at the peak of the winter and the fall search. That’s something we haven’t been able to say really until this last week. Same is occurring in the I. C. Youth. Remember you’ve got to be pretty sick to get into an I. C. U. We think a couple of things are happening here. You know? One is um uh more people have been vaccinated. 2nd is many people who haven’t been vaccinated have already had the virus. But the third is these antibody treatments when people get them and get them early really work and keep you out of the ICU. Now in another positive sign. The antibody treatment requests are going down as well meaning there are fewer very sick people that are requesting them. And finally let’s look at ventilators. So this is the only one that’s that’s not below the peak for the winter and fall surge let’s call that the alpha variant and and it’s getting there. But I think in part it’s because the delta variant has made people that much sicker than it was more aggressive with the people that it infects in what their outcomes are. We definitely saw a rise and ventilator use. I don’t know if we’ve seen in our history, certainly not in my lifetime, but we are seeing a significant downward movement. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still losing a significant number of people out there since the last time we did an update, we’ve lost a county judge and at least one magistrate along with countless other amazing Kentucky ins. So we need to keep it up. Listen, things are getting better and that’s good. It’s really good. That doesn’t mean that it is safe and that we’re completely out of the woods. It means we’ve got to still be careful around one another and make sure we’re doing the right things not to spread the virus. It means we’ve got to keep universal masking in our schools. My goodness. The first thing that would pop these numbers back up is if we came off universal masking in schools because that’s the largest population that is unvaccinated there in the smallest space and it’s the least ventilated out of just about any type of buildings that they will be in. Um that that’s how flu spreads, that’s where all the experts have have come to consensus in battling this virus. So let’s be smart and we want to get this thing down? Keep it down, have as much of our lives normal as possible. Does that mean we got to wear a mask inside for a while longer. Sure but we’ve done it enough we can get there. We just don’t want more people to die. We want people to be healthy and we want to eventually beat this thing once. And for all uh hospitals still treating a lot of people. But it is easing. Hospitalizations have decreased 10% over the last seven days in a rolling average 194 icu beds available. I think that some of the most In a while. We’re down to 59 of 96 hospitals with critical staffing shortages. Um so so again um things are easing but still have a number of sick folks out there including 15 confirmed kids in the IMF. Um Three. I’m sorry. Let me back up 15 kids. Hospitalist four in the i. c. U. The Rihanna ventilator. So we need to keep protecting. Especially the most vulnerable amongst us. Who If they are under 12 though. Dr. Stacks going to talk about it in a minute. Can’t yet get vaccinated. That includes a member of my family Over the weekend. 8624 new vaccinations. We normally see more than that. We’ll see what tomorrow’s report brings in. We normally see 16,013,000 but again it’s gonna get harder and harder. Um As we go. Um I would comment just real briefly that I saw a story talking about an analysis of vaccine lotteries, um, and haven’t lived this and haven’t made the battlefield decisions. Um, it’s not that I disagreed with the answer they tried to get to. But really the way they phrase the question, this analysis suggested that vaccine lotteries didn’t significantly increase the number of vaccines being given folks. The number of vaccines before we did our shot at a million was decreasing week, over week, over week in significant fashion. And what that did is stabilize it right? We announced that it’s the decrease stopped and we had steady vaccinations for the next in fact, several months. And so I think that a a program can be successful without increasing numbers if it stops a significant and major, uh, decrease where we would have been without, it concerns me. I do believe it did good work. It also resulted. I think over $100 million of media that was generated out of having that, that talked about the vaccine that got it out there that continued to spread the word. So there’s a lot of different reasons, um, to do something like that. And there’s a lot of potential benefits that come out of it outside of just one set analysis. And, and I think that even the person who who did that analysis says yes, we should have tried it. But I do disagree on that that it wasn’t really beneficial in where we were projecting where we would have been on vaccinations versus where we ended up. Thanks to doing that and other programs real quickly. Just some numbers in on our k through 12 Covid testing program. Remember we had vendors available to each schools. 1,142 public independent private parochial schools that are participating in the program. Now, 86 of 120 counties have representation through participation in the program. Remember it’s out there for everybody. It’s the school and the school system that has to opt in. I think we’ve had 114,142 tests that have been conducted as of eight a.m. Today in that program. Um, six out of 15 add districts have over 75% participation. One ad district has 100%. That’s northern Kentucky. Um, with uh, with, with its uh, different systems there. Uh, they have resulted in 4,042 positive individuals identified. That’s really important. That lets us isolate and ensure that it doesn’t spread further and spending to date on it about 10.95 million specifically. So just a couple of numbers there to report team Kentucky healthy at home eviction relief. Fun. We’ve seen a lot more applications in the last couple of weeks. That’s good. Keep them up. Nobody needs to be evicted from their home right now because we have the money to help you for landlords. That means you can get more than six months, I believe a background and months going forward as well. Those are dollars you would not get By simply a victim a 10ant. So if you combine what we have worked with Louisville and Lexington on those were the state funds that we provided extra to them. Um as well as ones that we have done directly. 100 let’s see um Where we are right now is 139 million left for Kentucky and so still a significant amount. Go on and apply for that. We’ve done 68 million direct from the state. We provide another 38 extra million dollars to Louisville and Lexington that then provided that assistance on top of there. So what is that? That is $106 million. Um, from, from the fund overall 139 left with that. I’m gonna turn it over to dr stack who’s going to go through the new Merck pharmaceutical that is pending. Um, that that may help those suffering from COVID boosters as well as kids. 5-11 and I think maybe one more thing. Okay, thank you governor and good afternoon everyone jimmy if you have my slides please. So I’m going to mention a little bit briefly about the merc oral antiviral medication mole new pure over here. It’s getting a little bit harder to pronounce some of these newer chemical names these days. The preliminary data that mark provided showed in a sample size of a little over 700 people About a 50% reduction in those who had mild to moderate covid progressing to severe covid. This was about 14% of the people in the placebo group or the group that didn’t get the medicine went on to be hospitalist or die And 7% of the people who got the medication went on to be hospitalized or die. That’s how they get to this. 50% reduction. This was an early finding in the research but it was so compelling and so statistically reliable that they decided to go forward and asked the FDA to review it for approval. That meeting will happen on November 30 at the FADA. And then after that would be the time that this could potentially be available. This is not a replacement for vaccination. It would be similar to when people take Tamiflu if you get exposed to or you get sick with the influenza virus. It will not be available in large quantities. In the early months, the federal government has apparently contracted for about 1.7 million doses. That’s for the whole nation. So in the early months the distribution will be limited and be targeted. Those people who are particularly high risk for going on to hospitalization and death. So that is the a new merc oral antiviral. It’s a wonderful accomplishment though for science to get this much progress this quickly. Again. It’s another tool in the toolbox to try to bring this disease to hell jim The next slide please. The modern a booster, The FADA had a meeting on October 15. So last week at that meeting they recommended guidelines very similar or identical to what The fighter booster would say. So that people who are 65 and older should be eligible for a third dose and for a booster dose, People who are 50 and older and have high risk medical conditions should be eligible for a booster of moderna. Also, people who are 18 or older who are in high risk professions or who are in particularly high risk for severe disease should be made available to booster. They’re not required to get it, but they should be offered to get it. And so that’s pretty much identical to what was recommended for Pfizer. There will be a follow up meeting in the next couple of days where the CDCs parallel committee will review the data and make the final recommendations and then both the FDA commissioner and the CDC director will make their agency recommendation. So by the end of this week, hopefully by the close of business friday or there about, we’ll have some clarity about the actual language for the modern a booster and I would imagine that there may be some limited availability this coming weekend, Probably next week will be when we have widespread availability of the booster doses for Moderna. Those doses for most people just so you’re not surprised will be a half dose compared to the the first two doses you received. Um And that’s what the research was based on. Next slide gym. The J and J or Janssen vaccine. Um That’s the one dose vaccine has some benefits because it doesn’t have to be frozen in the same way as the MRNA vaccines. That vaccine is currently a one dose series. The evidence supports making available to all persons. So that’s all persons 18 and older who have received a J&J vaccine that you should all be eligible for a booster dose of the J and J two months or more after your initial dose. So if you have received J and J once the CDC makes its review and the two agencies make their recommendations. Next week, it is anticipated you are likely to have access to a booster and if you have received J and J, I would encourage you to go out and get a booster when you get that booster, particularly for people who received their vaccine six months or more ago. Um The science appears to show that your protection goes up over 90%. So this now starts to get in the range of the MRNA vaccines. If you get a second dose of J and J, which is wonderful news for folks to get comparable protection with that extra dose of vaccine for all of these vaccines. Before I move onto my next slide, I encourage you to either talk with your personal health care provider who if they’re vaccinating may have access to these. But since a lot of offices have not taken on the vaccines because there’s a substantial amount of documentation requirements that go with it. You can go to the covid 19 website. Ky covid 19 dot ky dot gov. And there’s a link to the CDCs vaccine finder. If you go there, you can actually put in your zip code and it’ll tell you sites that are near you within a radius, you define uh, that have the specific type of vaccine you’re looking for and then you can reach out to that specific site and make an appointment. Remember there is no charge to get these vaccine doses at this time. The next slide please. So we’re gonna talk about vaccination for Children 5-11 years of age. Currently, vaccines are not available for COVID-19 for persons under 12. So this will be a, a big development when this happens. Um, the meeting for the FDA committee that advises on this is scheduled for october 26th and the CDCs parallel committee has a meeting scheduled november two and three. They may move that up a little earlier or they may not. That is yet to be determined at any rate. It is widely anticipated that the Pfizer vaccine will be approved For Children 5 to 11 years of age. Um, when that happens, if I remember correctly, it’s an estimation of about 28 million Children in the United States in that age category. And in Kentucky it’s about 389,000 Children, 5 to 11 years of age. All of them would be eligible for the vaccine. If approved. As we anticipate, it is likely that in the early part of november the first week or so, this is when it would be available. The city’s the federal government rather, he has obtained enough vaccine probably to meet half of that population over the first few weeks. And then they’ll continue obviously to get ongoing supplies and we’ll be able to catch up with the rest and we are already engaged in planning and as are all the other states in partnership with the federal government for pre positioning some of this vaccine and distributing it throughout the state. I have no doubt that there will be widespread availability. You may have to be patient just in the first couple of weeks though because it’s a matter of distribution and trying to get it where the demand is the most and also doing that in a fair and equitable manner. So I’m very confident within the first few weeks that any parent who wants to have their child vaccinate should have access to these vaccines. I do want to show one more thing real quick. Um, for those of you who may get a vaccine for your child and certainly for those who are administering them, the adult product for fighters packaged there will be packaged in a bottle with a purple cap and purple language. The pediatric one will be in an orange bottle with an orange cap and orange language. This is very very important. You cannot take the adult dose for the adult product And use it on kids 5- 11. The actual amount of medication vaccine dose in the child’s vaccine is about one third of that’s what’s in the adult. If you try to take the adult product and dilute it in order to make it appropriate for a kid. The size of the volume is less than .1 mm which is considered to be too small to be reliable and is not tested for these intra intra muscular injections. So They are making specific pediatric concentration bottles specifically for kids 5-11 years of age and those will be what’s available to any provider who is going to vaccinate Children on the C. D. C. S. Covid vaccine finder. You will be able to search, they have told us that you’ll be able to check a box and find the ones that are offering pediatric vaccinations and of course we’re working with pediatricians across the state as well. Those who are participating in this program and who participate in the vaccine for Children’s program to try to make available to them the vaccine so that they can offer to their patient population as well. So folks, the vaccines continue to be working very, very well. If you look at the data the governor showed before, it’s great to see that their metrics are all trending positive after so much distress. We’ve gone through these last couple or a few months. The vaccines though are what made it even remotely survivable. Had we had this surge last winter when we had no vaccines, we would have seen happened here. What happened in china when this whole pandemic first began the vaccines are what made horrible situation survivable instead of just absolutely catastrophic. And so they clearly have done their work. I hope you’ll all take advantage of these vaccines and when they’re available for your Children. I certainly hope you’ll avail yourself of that and get them the same protection. That’s all I have. All right. Thank you. Yes, I’m guessing some of these questions will be for you. So, uh, we will move right into questions tom late check. Thank you governor. Um, fact that the hospitals are getting in better shape and the number of cases are reducing. Does this stain the uh outside help from fema Kentucky National Guard. And that is that going to be reducing over. So if if we continue to see the decline, then then yes, there will be a point. Um, when when there will be reductions in um outside assistance. Certainly some of the fema is already gone. Some of it is on extension. We have moved the guard around to different places in the state. It is a slightly smaller group now than at the height. But what you’ll see is it’ll be hospital by hospital area by area that, that we make those reductions chad Hedrick in terms of masking and schools. Are there any conversations with the Department of Education districts and some said once their county went orange, especially yellow, they would drop their policy a uh, so there is uh, no, no distance or room at all between the Kentucky Department of Education and, and our administration and DPH and our belief that there should be universal masking in every school across Kentucky For a couple of reasons. Number one, we want our kids to stay in school. The only way to do that is to keep covid from spreading or reduce the spread. Number two, we want to protect the, especially the most susceptible Kids that have various conditions that may make them susceptible and teachers and administrators, we’ve lost 50 of them. I don’t want to lose 51st Or a 52nd and it’s the fastest way that a community will go from maybe getting to yellow way back to read as fast as it can happen. It’s the largest group that comes together with the lowest vaccination rate and the most poorly ventilated group and then goes back to parents and nobody’s wearing masks, nor should they, but you can see how that spread, uh, can work. So we continue to have, um, uh, any and all communications that, that we can, I know Katie works directly with folks, um, very concerned that there are some districts that are considering or may have already let up when they’re still in the red. But certainly I would not do it in the orange. Try to get to the green or, or at least the yellow. But I mean, if you, if you really want to stay in school, keep them on until we’re in a better place. Drew and uh, $100 million. Uh, uh, the minority caucus has sent us the names that they want to serve. One from the House and one from the Senate. I believe we have the Senate. We are waiting on the majority. I hope that they do send us some names because this is something that we at least ought to talk through. I think we’re doing this or my proposal is the manner that they’ve asked for different points during covid, which is consultation. Let’s get folks in a room and discuss it now. You know, it’s gonna be, it’s, it’s ultimately going to be codified. We hope in legislation in the beginning of the session. So I’m not worried that I haven’t heard from them yet, but, but we do want them to participate and be a part. This is a chance. Again, I think to provide, um, an incentive to our healthcare workers to, to, to keep it up, but remember when you look at the supply chain issues we got right now, it’s incentive for a lot of essential workers to keep it up. You know, we ought to look at truck drivers and grocery store workers and so many others that have been so important. Certainly our, our social workers um, need to be included in that to doing dangerous work in the middle of covid for far too little money. So I hope those conversations will continue in earnest. Um, I think we showed our good faith but not just throwing out a fully detailed, fully decided plan and saying we really want to work together. Um, let’s see. Um, oh, uh, skipped right over mike valenti bill, people bipartisan infrastructure bill, no combination. Should congress vote on both of them at the same time and to crack or the first, would you like to see the build back better, the social spending bill passed in addition to the bike parts? Yeah, so I think the bipartisan infrastructure bill should be passed immediately. Uh, I think when you have agreement, you should go ahead and take that step, the types of infrastructure uh, that are included for Kentucky can be game changing, uh, create jobs, continue our economic development momentum, we have an economy on fire and if we have extra money to improve our infrastructure from roads to bridges to broadband, there is absolutely no stopping us now is the time to invest and we can do that in coordination with the way that we are growing and where these things are are coming from. Um, I believe in a lot of the build back better bill. Obviously there’s been some things that I’ve objected to uh, that hit Kentucky a little harder on the how to pay side. But I believe that especially the child care and some of the other funding in there is critical if we want to give everybody true opportunity in the workforce now where they are right now do I think that they should look at the most important pieces and talk about those? Yes, I think that is worth doing. But past that infrastructure bill right away and that will address some of the blips we’re seeing in our economy. Uh, though certainly I think we’re making out a lot better in Kentucky right now and again, all eyes are on us. Um, every boardroom in America is talking about us, every nation across the globe knows now, not only who we are, but where we are and that transportation bill could, could help take us to the next level or get us there faster. All right on the line. Karens are in governor, thank you one for you and one for doctors stuck uh, for you, could you reiterate the guidance for Halloween, especially with some of the many of the Children who will be trick or treating are unvaccinated. And then for dr stack What should parents once they are able to get their Children 5-11 vaccinated. What should they be looking for? As far as potential side effects to the vaccine. And at what point would I guess is it similar to what we were we were seeing in some adults. Thank you. Alright for Halloween. Be mindful of whether you are inside or outside. Certainly when you are inside with members outside of your family, you ought to be wearing a mask and a lot of people let their guard down on the holidays. And we’ve seen spikes after the holidays. Now most of Halloween, I hope is conducted outside the more you can do outside the better. Uh, and then the last uh, contact and, and a little more distance that you can have, especially in trick or treating. Um, maybe you don’t have to go as far as we went last year. The people got creative and I think people have fun with it. But having a table or a basket that you set out instead of reaching over someone that might be unvaccinated and having that extra contact just gives them an extra level of protection. Remember, we all have a responsibility to protect our kids. So we don’t want to get them infected. Likewise our kids being unvaccinated uh, primarily would be the ones that could have absolutely no symptoms and pose a risk to you. Uh, whether vaccinated or not, depending on how much your exposure is. But at this point, Karen, we all know how this thing spreads. It’s just being willing and making the decision um, to, to keep up at least minimal protections. We see a lot of, I wanted to be fully back to normal and we can be a whole lot back to normal, but we can also be a little bit careful which we would regularly do in other times uh, that we were seeing far less sickness that we’re seeing now. Doctor Stock. Thank you Karen. Uh, so far for what we know, the side effects for kids are no worse and probably more mild for um, for the younger kids than for adults. It’s the typical things where you might get some aches or sore spot where you receive the injection, maybe feel crummy for a day or so. But kids bounce back so quickly and there’s no report of any significant side effects. Certainly nothing any worse than the adults have and probably less. So. So I would solidly encourage you to go ahead and get your kids vaccinated. Remember the things we don’t know over the long haul are not just your risk for acute covid to go into the hospital and get into die, which thank goodness does not happen very often for kids, but things and kids that are unique like the multi system inflammatory condition that a very small number of them can get. But it’s very serious and does make some of them very ill. And then long Covid, we really do not know yet. We don’t know. But the longer term effects are. And I think that’s one of the biggest concerns we have in the pediatric population is since we know that the virus can impact people’s hearts and some of the other organs is what are the long term consequences of having it. So I think if the FDA and CDC recommend the shots for kids, I would definitely recommend that every parent who has an eligible try and go ahead and get their child vaccinated. Mhm. Yeah. On a personal note, um a 12 year old had 0 uh Reaction to to the vaccine. No side effects. And I intend to take my 11 year old as soon as it is possible. I believe in the science. I believe in the studies. I believe in this vaccine and I very much believe that Covid has implications and damaged that. We have not yet calculated, seen or understood. Believe that I will be doing the right thing by her being her parents for her long term health by getting that vaccine. Debbie Yetter Courier Journal, the governor. Do you have an update on vaccination rates in Kentucky And also, can you say how equity is proceeding and vaccination rates by ethnicity and race. Sure. You know, we’re gonna have more on uh, on some of the age, demographics we believe on thursday. Um We are reviewing some of that data because we see in some counties 100 plus percent of certain age group. Um and wanting to to fully understand that we’re actually in talks with the C. D. C. Over um that as well. Um in terms of race it looks like um We have Here it is remember we have an other category here to which throws things off from our our other population statistics. Uh we look at of all of the vaccines that have been given 81.2 Um white 6.9% black or African American, 1.9% .2% American Indian .1 Native Hawaiian. What that breaks out to is about uh 3.36 million vaccines. Um White Kentucky and um 314,265 to black or african american Kentucky ins 59,632. Um Asian american Kentucky ins um And and and the rest is in there now. 9.7% of all of our vaccinations are in this other category. And I think that the way uh some may may either uh fill out race or some providers uh not be recording it especially early on. Does throw off the way that we can compare these figures directly to the overall makeup of the population because our other category isn’t anywhere near that. When we look at at that demographic. Um I believe as of today our numbers are 62 of all Kentucky ins having received at least their first dose of the vaccine. Melissa Patrick, Kentucky health news. Um Hi governor. Um I guess I’m wondering if you’ve done an update lately on the number of long term care staff that have been vaccinated and then more specifically, um how many Kentucky nursing homes will be impacted by? President Biden’s ruled that employers with more than 100 employees require vaccinations or have weekly testing both. Good questions. And and let me work on getting the answer to both either before or or for thursday because um melissa is exactly right in that um the homes that take Medicaid now have to have people um to get vaccinated or to meet a testing requirement. And then outside of that, which is the second question that we haven’t calculated how many of them will have enough employees to either have a specific number of tests per week or get vaccinated. Let’s do remember because we’re still waiting on the state and knowing if the state is going to fall under that, which we believe it probably will because decades ago we opted into a federal OSHA program that while they call it a vaccine mandate, it is a testing mandate and the amount you have to get tested is determined by whether you are vaccinated. So that mandate won’t require an individual whose unvaccinated get vaccinated but it will require them to get a test every week until they get vaccinated. Um So I do think that what people call things they may call depending on on on what they think is is best in their situation or area. But the only really mandated thing here um is the test now. Um we’ll be ready if it does apply to us to do that it will help us find more people who become positive and thus prevent the virus from spreading if we have to do it because those that are unvaccinated are more likely to get infected and spread the infection. So knowing about it early will be helpful. Now it will be um expensive. It’ll be really expensive but but we’re ready um If we have to go in that direction remember there are already some areas in in in our state apparatus like corrections officers uh those who work at our R. V. A. Homes that um that we already have um that testing mandate in place. Uh I think we have somebody on from W. T. V. Q. But I don’t haven’t. No. Mhm. All right then that no stew johnson with our last question. All right thank you governor. Good afternoon. Um in your briefings has there been consideration given to detailing the number of people that have passed away who are vaccinated and are not vaccinated to break that down and then secondly what percentage of cases now our breakthrough cases? Uh we uh stew we can send that information to you. I don’t have that, that print out on me today. We can certainly show it on thursday. The numbers haven’t moved that much from last week. When we show remember cases and hospitalizations and deaths. The hospitalizations about 92% unvaccinated Steve. Where are we on? The case is now more. Yeah, but I was trying to think of 80, 80 something percent of all cases, 82% of all cases unvaccinated but still will send you that we’ve got that broken down uh as well as the overall numbers of deaths. Now when it comes to Uh deaths, when we look at unvaccinated versus vaccinated, there’s some extra nuance. There, virtually every death of people under 50 have been unvaccinated. That if you are under 50 and you get the vaccine, you with some very rare exceptions, you don’t die. But a number of folks that we read every single day under 50, all unvaccinated passing away when they have decades left in this world. The breakthrough cases resulting in deaths, we believe a lot of them um maybe like General Powell are from folks that have an underlying condition that made them vulnerable. When we first started this thing that we talked about, we believe that the boosters are critical to those individuals and are going to significantly help them. That’s why if you got Pfizer go ahead and get your booster. if you’re over the age of 65 or you have any of those conditions, you can go ahead and get a booster of Moderna if you are immuno compromised or have one of those major major conditions with we think the the FDA and the C. D. C. Approving it for a lot more people here shortly. So in the end the numbers haven’t changed a lot by percentage. You’re a lot better protected if you were vaccinated a whole lot more than unvaccinated and if you suffer from one of those underlying conditions, certainly get that booster as soon as it is approved.


‘Reason for optimism’: COVID-19 cases in Kentucky drop 4th week in a row

COVID-19 cases in Kentucky have dropped for the fourth week in a row, bringing the state’s positivity rate to 7.36%, the lowest level since the spring, Gov. Andy Beshear said.During Monday’s briefing, Beshear reported 3,256 new cases since Saturday.”Just about everything is moving in the right direction. It is a real trend. It is a positive trend. It has not plateaued. It is moving downward, which is reason for optimism,” Beshear said.While cases continue to go down, deaths remain high. A total of 103 Kentuckians died from COVID-19 over the last three days. Despite those numbers, Beshear says there are indications they could soon begin to decrease.”Hospitalizations have decreased 10 percent over the last seven days on a rolling average,” Beshear said.Continuing coverage: Louisville area doctors stress importance of COVID-19 booster shots ahead of winterThe number of available ICU beds has also increased to 194, a number that had dipped several times below 100.”Another positive sign is the antibody treatment requests are going down as well, meaning there are fewer very sick people that are requesting them,” Beshear said.State Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says there is more good news on the horizon as the Food and Drug Administration prepares to review an oral antibody treatment for COVID-19, as well as vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old. He expects that approval to come in the first week of November making another 389,000 Kentuckians eligible for the vaccine.COVID-19 impact: Louisville offering 1 million free home COVID-19 rapid tests to hardest-hit areas”We are already engaged in planning, as are all the other states, in partnership with the federal government for prepositioning some of this vaccine and distributing it throughout the state,” Stack said.Until that happens, Stack and the governor say it’s crucial to maintain universal masking in schools to keep those who are still unvaccinated safe.

COVID-19 cases in Kentucky have dropped for the fourth week in a row, bringing the state’s positivity rate to 7.36%, the lowest level since the spring, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

During Monday’s briefing, Beshear reported 3,256 new cases since Saturday.


“Just about everything is moving in the right direction. It is a real trend. It is a positive trend. It has not plateaued. It is moving downward, which is reason for optimism,” Beshear said.

While cases continue to go down, deaths remain high. A total of 103 Kentuckians died from COVID-19 over the last three days. Despite those numbers, Beshear says there are indications they could soon begin to decrease.

“Hospitalizations have decreased 10 percent over the last seven days on a rolling average,” Beshear said.

Continuing coverage: Louisville area doctors stress importance of COVID-19 booster shots ahead of winter

The number of available ICU beds has also increased to 194, a number that had dipped several times below 100.

“Another positive sign is the antibody treatment requests are going down as well, meaning there are fewer very sick people that are requesting them,” Beshear said.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says there is more good news on the horizon as the Food and Drug Administration prepares to review an oral antibody treatment for COVID-19, as well as vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old. He expects that approval to come in the first week of November making another 389,000 Kentuckians eligible for the vaccine.

COVID-19 impact: Louisville offering 1 million free home COVID-19 rapid tests to hardest-hit areas

“We are already engaged in planning, as are all the other states, in partnership with the federal government for prepositioning some of this vaccine and distributing it throughout the state,” Stack said.

Until that happens, Stack and the governor say it’s crucial to maintain universal masking in schools to keep those who are still unvaccinated safe.