LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The spread of the delta variant is leading some hospitals to strengthen their already tight restrictions on visitors.
One month ago, there were only three COVID-positive patients at Baptist Health Lexington and zero in the ICU.
"Now, we have eight patients in the ICU and 34 patients in the hospital. And that's happened over a pretty rapid period of time," said Dr. Mark Dougherty, the hospital's epidemiologist.
He says that sharp increase means revisiting what they can control: the number of visitors inside.
For now, there will be no more visitors overnight allowed or any under the age of 18.
For COVID-negative in-patients, only one designated visitor is allowed. There will be zero visitors allowed for those who are admitted with COVID.
Dougherty acknowledged this will be tough on families and their sick, loved ones.
"Well we know it's very important to the patients' recovery, for psychological reasons, for all kinds of reasons for people to be able to have visitors," said Dougherty. "But especially for our standpoint, don't want to see transmission especially to our ill patients who are, who already have other problems to deal with."
UK HealthCare says it is still allowing two designated visitors per most non-COVID patients at the hospital. Visitors must be at least 12 years old.
But on July 30, a UK spokesperson says the hospital did move back to tier three operations, which means stricter following of pandemic guidelines already in place. Currently, there are 28 COVID-positive inpatients, and 12 are in the ICU.
CHI Saint Joseph Health in Lexington has 17 COVID inpatients, and the spokesperson says at the moment, there have been no visitation policy changes.
Dougherty says the vaccine does not 100% protect you from infection, but the risk of the shot can prevent far greater consequences, especially with the highly contagious Delta variant.
"You're going to pay the price, or someone in your family is going to pay the price, you're going to get infected over the next two months if you don't get the vaccine, and not just get infected, if you're unvaccinated, you have a chance of getting severely ill," said Dougherty.