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2 arrested after police pursuit
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Two 18-year-old Louisville men are lodged in the Scott County Jail after leading police on about a 12-minute pursuit that started in Madison and ended in Scott County Saturday afternoon.

Hanover Police Officer Kyle Pence had received a report of a vehicle stolen during a pizza delivery, and later saw a white Ford Taurus fitting the description of the missing vehicle traveling east on Clifty Drive toward Madison.

Pence initiated a traffic stop near the parking lot of the River Valley Church in the 2500 block of Clifty Drive on Madison’s hilltop, but the driver fled the scene with Pence giving chase.

The pursuit traveled west and onto State Road 56 through Hanover with the car striking the mirror of a vehicle owned by Grant Trader and driven by Patricia Trader in Hanover, but continued to flee on State Road 56 through Hanover and into Scott County.

The pursuit finally ended near the intersection of State Roads 3 and 56 when the Ford Taurus became inoperable.

The driver, Anthony Rankins, 18, of Louisville, and a passenger in the car, Donteregan Sanders, 18, also of Louisville, both ran from the vehicle on foot. Pence and Hanover Police Officer Max Gibson, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Muldoon, and deputies from the Scott County Sheriff’s Department gave chase on foot until the suspects stopped and fell to the ground.

Rankins and Sanders were both lodged in the Scott County Jail shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Charges against Rankins are listed as Resisting Law Enforcement with a Vehicle or Deadly Weapon, a Level 6 felony, and Resisting Law Enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor. He is also being held on an out of county warrant. Charges against Sanders are listed as Resisting Law Enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor, and he is also being held on an out of county warrant.

However, Pence said he will be filing charges related to leaving the scene of the accident and reckless driving against Sanders and additional charges are possible as the investigation continues.

“It was interesting, for sure, but we caught the suspects and no one was hurt,” Pence said, adding that the stolen vehicle was also recovered so it was a “win-win.”

Hanover police were assisted by the Jefferson County and Scott County sheriff’s departments, Madison Police Department and the Scott County EMS.

Two-year-old Collynns Morrison holds on tight to one of her finds while romping around the grounds of the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site Saturday while participating in the annual Eggstravaganza Easter Egg Hunt there.


COVID numbers continue to improve
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While reporting 316 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and a positivity rate below 3%, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky has now gone 10 straight weeks with declining COVID-19 numbers and 1.175 million Kentuckians now have been vaccinated.

Meanwhile in Indiana, a total of 954,578 Hoosiers are now fully vaccinated, which includes 911,947 who received a necessary second dose, and 42,631 who took the single dose vaccination offered by Johnson & Johnson. There are 1,442,254 people statewide who have received a first dose of a two-dose vaccination series.

Hoosiers ages 40 and older are now eligible to receive the free COVID-19 vaccine, effective Monday. The latest eligibility expansion includes ages 40 to 44 and make the vaccine available to more than 400,000 additional Hoosiers.

Beginning today, Kentuckians 50 and older can sign up for COVID-19 vaccination appointments while Kentuckians ages 16 and older will be allowed to begin registering for the shots by April 12.

On Monday, it was reported that Jefferson County had no new cases of COVID-19 with the overall total now at 2,986. So far 15,199 residents have been tested and the seven-day positivity percentage is currently 2.4% and the unique positivity rating is 6.7%. The total number of deaths in Jefferson County attributed to the virus pandemic stands at 76.

In Switzerland County, there were also no new cases of COVID-19 with the total at 761. So far, 3,885 residents have been tested. A total of eight deaths have been attributed to the virus pandemic in Switzerland County.

In information from the North Central District Health Department, Trimble County has reported 658 cases of COVID-19 with 21 active cases and overall six deaths during the pandemic. Carroll County has reported 948 cases of COVID-19 with 14 deaths.

Jefferson County has 5,561 residents that have been fully vaccinated while Switzerland County has 972 fully vaccinated. A total of 7,652 Jefferson County residents have received at least the first of two doses of the COVID vaccine. In Switzerland County, 1,442 have received at least the first of two doses of the vaccine.

On Monday, the Indiana Department of Health announced one death from COVID-19 with 516 additional Hoosiers diagnosed with the coronavirus. Indiana’s overall death total now stands at 12,537 with 678,416 Indiana residents now known to have had contracted the virus.

Kentucky reported 18 new deaths with 5,738 deaths overall and 420,828 positive cases since the pandemic began last March.

COVID vaccination appointments can be scheduled in Indiana by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.

AstraZeneca: US data shows vaccine effective for all adults
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LONDON — AstraZeneca reported Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine provided strong protection among all adults in a long-anticipated U.S. study, raising hopes that the findings could help rebuild public confidence in the beleaguered shot in other countries and moving a step closer to clearance for American use.

AstraZeneca said the vaccine was 79% effective overall at preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 — including in older people — and that none of the study volunteers who were vaccinated were hospitalized or developed severe disease. The company also said its experts did not identify any safety concerns related to the vaccine, including finding no increased risk of rare blood clots identified in Europe.

The findings bolster AstraZeneca’s prior research in Britain and other countries, and add to real-world evidence that the shots are offering good protection as they’re used more widely. But confidence in the vaccine has been repeatedly hit because of concerns about how data was reported from some previous trials, confusion over its efficacy in older adults and a recent scare over clotting.

AstraZeneca said it will seek clearance in the United States “in the coming weeks,” putting it on track to arrive just as the country is projected to have a big boost in supplies of three other vaccines — from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — that already are in use.

AstraZeneca’s interim results are based on 141 COVID-19 cases in the 30,000-person trial, but officials declined to tell reporters during a news conference Monday how many were in study volunteers who received the vaccine and how many in those who got dummy shots. Two-thirds of the volunteers received vaccine.

“These findings reconfirm previous results observed,” said Ann Falsey, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, who helped lead the trial. “It’s exciting to see similar efficacy results in people over 65 for the first time.”

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee will publicly debate the evidence behind the shots before the agency decides whether to allow emergency use. Ruud Dobber, an AstraZeneca executive vice president, said that if the FDA OK’s the vaccine, the company will deliver 30 million doses immediately — and another 20 million within the first month.

The AstraZeneca shot, which has been authorized in more than 70 countries, is a pillar of a U.N.-backed project known as COVAX that aims to get COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries, and it has also become a key tool in European countries’ efforts to boost their sluggish vaccine rollouts. That important role in the global strategy to stamp out the pandemic make doubts about the shot especially worrying.

Stephen Evans, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the new data could help to allay concerns about the vaccine.

“The benefits of these results will mainly be for the rest of the world where confidence in the AZ (AstraZeneca) vaccine has been eroded, largely by political and media comment,” he said.

Dr. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the results were reassuring but that more details were needed to back up AstraZeneca’s claim that the vaccine was completely effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization.

“It would be good to know how many severe cases occurred in the control group and so what the confidence intervals are for this 100% figure,” said Hunter, who was not connected to the study. “But this should add confidence that the vaccine is doing what it is most needed for.”

Scientists had hoped the U.S. study would clear up some of the confusion about just how well the shots really work, particularly in older people. Previous research suggested the vaccine was effective in younger populations, but there was no solid data proving its efficacy in those over 65, often those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Britain first authorized the vaccine based on partial results from testing in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa that suggested the shots were about 70% effective. But those results were clouded by a manufacturing mistake that led some participants to get just a half dose in their first shot — an error the researchers didn’t immediately acknowledge.

Then came more questions, about how well the vaccine protected older adults and how long to wait before the second dose. Some European countries including Germany, France and Belgium initially withheld the shot from older adults and only reversed their decisions after new data suggested it was offering seniors protection.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine development was rocky in the U.S., too. Last fall, the FDA suspended the company’s study for an unusual six weeks, as frustrated regulators sought information about some neurologic complaints reported in Britain; ultimately, there was no evidence the vaccine was to blame.

Last week, more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, temporarily suspended their use of the AstraZeneca shot after reports it was linked to rare blood clots — even as international health agencies insisted the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks. On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency concluded after an investigation that the vaccine did not raise the overall risk of blood clots, but could not rule out that it was connected to two very rare types of clots. It recommended adding a warning about these cases to the vaccine’s leaflet.

It’s not unheard of for such rare problems to crop up as vaccines are rolled out since trials typically look at tens of thousands of people, and some issues are only seen once the shot is used in millions of people.

France, Germany, Italy and other countries subsequently resumed their use of the shot on Friday, with senior politicians rolling up their sleeves to show the vaccine was safe.

The AstraZeneca shot is what scientists call a “viral vector” vaccine. The shots are made with a harmless virus, a cold virus that normally infects chimpanzees. It acts like a Trojan horse to carry the coronavirus’s spike protein’s genetic material into the body that in turn produces some harmless protein. That primes the immune system to fight if the real virus comes along.

Two other companies, Johnson & Johnson and China’s CanSino Biologics, make COVID-19 vaccines using the same technology but using different cold viruses.