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The Commonwealth Again Sets Record Breaking COVID Numbers: Hospitals Overwhelmed

Karyn Czar

Kentucky’s latest COVID report shows the highest incidence rate is among children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 19. During his weekly COVID press briefing on Monday, Governor Andy Beshear also reported that the state had broken several unwanted records. 2,198 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 related reasons as of Monday, 615 of those patients are in the ICU and 361 are on ventilators. The state’s positivity rate is also at an all-time high at 13.45%.

Beshear said “We are not St. Louis. We are Philadelphia right now.”

The Governor was referring to maps he showed daily at the start of the pandemic of the deadly Spanish Flu 100 years ago. During that pandemic, Philadelphia had flattened the curve of new cases, only to see exponential growth which experts believe was driven by crowded events.

The state also had 2,619 new positive cases on Monday and there were 56 additional COVID-19 related deaths in just three days' time. And last week Kentucky had its highest number of weekly cases recorded since the onset of the pandemic with 29,456.

As the highly contagious Delta variant drives up case numbers, hospitals across the state are  pushed to their limits. The Governor said “the reality is that some COVID patients are being treated in their cars.”

Sherrie Mays, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer from Baptist Health in Corbin said their four small hospitals are “all overwhelmed” and their surgery department had to close so that they could utilize the space to treat COVID patients if needed.

Currently, Beshear doesn’t plan to open field hospitals. He said while space at some facilities is an issue, medical staff shortages are the major concern. "58 of our 96 hospitals are reporting critical staffing shortages."

To assist struggling medical facilities, the National Guard will begin working at the most strapped hospitals beginning this week, three FEMA EMS Strike Teams arrived last week and two more teams have been requested, COVID-19 testing assistance will be provided across the state and nursing students will be cleared to help staff area hospitals in need of support.  

Beshear and several medical experts again urged Kentuckians to get vaccinated. Dr. Jeffery Foxx, a family physician at Baptist Health Lexington recovered after being in a coma and on a ventilator in the ICU due to COVID 19. He was one of the first in the state to get virus.

“Please, please get the vaccine,” Foxx urged, “healthcare workers are a resilient bunch of people but we are tired and we are frustrated and we are sad. Give us a break. Get the vaccine.” Foxx added that in 40 plus years of practice “I’ve never asked a patient to do anything that would hurt them.”

As for additional mask requirements, Beshear told us last week he believes another indoor mandate is needed to help mitigate the spread of the disease but the power to do so now rests with the Kentucky Legislature. He believes a special session needs to happen soon and said he would call one once “legislative leaders have reached a general consensus on what needs to be done.” The Governor hopes it will be before the state of emergency issued to deal with the pandemic expires.

To find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you log on to http://vaccine.ky.gov