Leaders set to honor COVID victims as state surpasses 10,000 deaths

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – Gov. Andy Beshear is set to memorialize the more than 10,000 Kentuckians who have died due to COVID-19 on Sunday afternoon. 

Gov. Beshear will also announce the artist chosen to create a permanent monument in honor of those who have been lost and the sacrifices Kentuckians have made over the past 20 months. 

The artist was selected by a panel of healthcare workers, first responders, and families of lost loved ones. 

“I remember when they first started predicting numbers for Kentucky saying that 1,200 to 1,500 people were going to die and we thought that was just an insane number, and we’ve run laps around that,” said Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency physician in Lexington. 

Dr. Stanton calls the unwanted milestone sobering. 

“That’s 10,000 Kentuckians who are grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, friends and loved ones,” Dr. Stanton said. 

Dr. Stanton added that it was a preventable milestone. 

“Many of these 10,000 are deaths that could’ve been avoided,” said Dr. Stanton. “That, with vaccinations and steps to protect each other, that we could’ve prevented those deaths.“ 

With holidays around the corner, Dr. Stanton said there’s a potential for an increase in cases or even a new variant. 

So, he says the most important tool to prevent future milestones of this kind is by getting Kentuckians aged 5 and up vaccinated. 

“Death isn’t always the measuring stick, especially with children with regard to COVID,” Dr. Stanton said. “Also, you think about the holidays coming up, the kids aren’t just going to be around kids. It’s important because of the people they’re going to be around.” 

But Dr. Stanton added that many of those who he’s seeing suffer from Covid in the hospital are dealing with serious risk factors on top of being unvaccinated. 

“Whether it be age, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking. Whatever those risk factors are, I think we need to have a reality check with a lot of adults.” 

The memorial will take place on the State Capitol grounds at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Team Kentucky COVID-19 Memorial will be constructed in Monument Park.

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