LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky will begin vaccinating residents age 40 and over against COVID-19 beginning Monday.

Gov. Andy Beshear said in his daily news conference on Thursday that vaccine clinics across the state will be open to the new age group in addition to groups 1A, 1B and 1C.

Beshear said he believes the state is close to making vaccines available to everyone in the state.

"We're trying to thread this needle just right, and to make sure that we don't open to everyone too quickly," he said.

Kentucky now has 573 vaccination sites. Three were added Thursday, but none are in the Louisville area. Last week, 200,000 Kentuckians received COVID vaccinations, which means more than 36% of adults — 1.25 million, according to the state's vaccination dashboard — in the Commonwealth have gotten their first shot.

The state has set up a new link on its website that points out where vaccines are currently available. To check the website, click here or here.

The state is still providing free or reduced-cost transportation to and from vaccination appointments. Click here for a list of participating transportation agencies, or call Kentucky's COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 855-598-2246.

Kentucky's COVID-19 positivity rate sees slight increase

Beshear on Thursday reported 726 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky and 19 deaths related to the virus. He also reported 88 additional deaths related to the virus as part of the state's ongoing death certificate audit, according to a news release from the governor's office. To date, 5,970 Kentuckians have died from the virus.

At least 423,414 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic last March. At least 49,349 have recovered, according to a report from Kentucky Public Health. Currently, 403 Kentucky residents are in the hospital with COVID-19, 106 of which are in an ICU, with 49 on ventilators.

As of Thursday, Kentucky's positivity rate, which measures the proportion of COVID-19 tests returning positive, sits at 2.92%, a slight increase from Wednesday's positivity rate of 2.85%. The rate also serves as an indicator of the extent of the spread of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. If the rate is less than 5% for two weeks and testing is widespread, the virus is considered under control.

For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. The vast majority of people recover. But for others, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

To find a COVID-19 testing location near you, click here

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