FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Health officials in Kentucky are concerned about the rising number of hospitalizations caused by the exponential growth of COVID-19 in the Bluegrass state.
On Tuesday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health Dr. Steven Stack shared their concerns over the spread of the virus, especially the Delta variant. They said the number of Kentuckians hospitalized with COVID-19 is growing exponentially, and it is predicted that by the end of this week the state will have surpassed its record for the number of people in the hospital on a given day.
In today’s briefing, Beshear said the number of Kentuckians in the ICU due to COVID-19 reached a record point on Wednesday. Healthcare professionals from across the state joined Beshear by video to urge people to get the vaccines as their hospitals are filling up with unvaccinated people fighting COVID-19. They say they worry with more people admitted for COVID-19, there is less room for patients suffering from trauma and other medical emergencies who need immediate help, but could be delayed due to lack of space.
Beshear says other challenges hospitals are facing according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health include:
- The inability to transfer patients due to a lack of available beds, including in pediatric cases.
- Crisis standards of care are being implemented
- elective or non-emergency procedures are being canceled.
- Healthcare facilities are facing staffing shortages.
- Healthcare facilities are also facing emergency medical staffing shortages.
- EMS are struggling to provide 911 emergency services and suport transfers and transports to and from hospitals.
- There has been an increase in ER visits soley for COVID-19 testing. Dr. Stack strongly urged people not to do this to allow the ER to attend to those who are seriously injured or extremely ill.
The governor says the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases and filling hospitals is putting a strain on healthcare workers. Because of this, Beshear has declared next week, Aug. 22 through Aug. 28, as Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Week.
“They are trying to be compassionate, they are trying to have the energy, but I cannot imagine how trying it is for them,” Beshear said. “Our healthcare heroes need us right now…. They are heroes. They have earned that title.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the state reported 3,576 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths, bringing the state to 525,746 cases and 7,468 deaths throughout the pandemic. The state’s most recently reported positivity rate is 12.59%.
Only six of Kentucky’s 120 counties are not in red on the state’s Current Incidence Rate map and the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker map does list all Kentucky counties as high-risk for virus spread.
Along with urging Kentuckians to get vaccinated, Dr. Stack urged people across the Bluegrass State to wear their masks to reduce spreading the virus. To explain that the masks are working, Stack took a step away from COVID-19 data and looked at the data for the flu in the past two years.
Stack said in the winter of 2019-2020, there were 27,408 confirmed flu cases and 165 deaths related to the flu. However last year, with COVID-19 prevention protocols in place, only cases were 186 flu cases were confirmed and two known flu-related deaths.
“The problem is COVID is just more contagious and is an even more difficult infection,” Stack said.