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Expecting A Hospital Visit Soon In Kentucky? You May Want To Reconsider.

AP Photo/Petr David Josek

Kentucky is fast approaching what health authorities fear may be the worst numbers of the pandemic so far in terms of hospitalizations. The state's top health official says the resurgence should even have some Kentuckians with conditions unrelated to COVID-19 rethinking upcoming medical procedures.

In the last week alone, virus-related hospitalizations in Kentucky jumped 43%, ICU usage rose 32%, and COVID patients on ventilators shot up by 61%. And Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says cases are skyrocketing at a pace unlike anything seen during the state's outbreak.

"At this rate in two weeks, we will blow past our previous peaks," he warned Tuesday.

And that's placing new burdens on an already stressed healthcare system. As of Tuesday, staffing shortages were being reported at more than 15% of the state's acute care hospitals. While Stack says those numbers should not stop anyone with an emergency condition from seeking medical care, they should give pause to others expecting a less-urgent visit to the hospital in the next month.

"If you have an optional or elective or non-urgent inpatient elective procedure scheduled in the next few weeks, if you were my family member, I would encourage you to reschedule it," Stack advised. "The staffing ratios are going to get stretched and it is not a good time to be in a hospital if you do not have to be."

Top state healthcare providers, including UK HealthCare and Baptist Health, announced last week that they plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees in response to the sharp increase in cases.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.