Kentucky hospitals ‘overrun’ with COVID-19 patients, hit new record high number

Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Kentucky on Wednesday broke its record for coronavirus-related hospitalizations as the state faces its most severe wave of COVID-19 yet, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

Some 2,074 Kentuckians are hospitalized with the virus, up from 1,658 a week ago, Beshear said.

The Democratic governor offered a somber warning of the days to come in a video announcement posted to social media Wednesday. He pleaded with the state’s residents to get vaccinated and follow safety measures in order to slow the virus’s spread.

“Our hospitals are overrun. We are seeing, and will see significant death, moving forward, but we can do something about it,” Beshear said. “So folks, get vaccinated, wear a mask, avoid large indoor gatherings, protect yourself. Protect your family.”

Overall, 56% of the state’s population has received at least one vaccine dose.

Kentucky reported 65 new virus-related deaths, 57 of which are from August, Beshear said. The state logged 4,849 new cases Wednesday, the third-highest since the pandemic began. More than 1,500 of new cases were children, Beshear added. The state’s test positivity rate has reached an all-time high at 13.16%.

Intensive care unit capacity in five of the state’s 10 hospital regions was above 80%, adding to the grim picture health care workers painted at a press briefing Monday, where they spoke of the difficulty of dealing with the new surge in the midst of staffing shortages.

“If we had another disaster happen right now – even a small one – we don’t have any reserve left. So if we had a bus accident, an influenza outbreak or anything else, I’m not sure what we would do,” said Dr. William Melahn, chief medical officer at St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead.

Dr. Jason Smith, M.D., chief medical officer of UofL Health in Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, also warned that the rapid increase in new ICU patients may limit the hospital system’s ability to also provide emergency medical services.

“We are seeing younger patients that are sicker,” Smith said. “They are filling up our hospital beds, backing up patients in the emergency department, and we are getting to the point where it us going to be hard to deliver emergency care to those who need it.”

All of Kentucky’s 120 counties are in the red zone — signaling a severe level of community spread.