Kentucky health experts warn of possible healthcare worker shortage if cases continue to rise

Posted at 12:45 AM, Nov 05, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — As coronavirus cases continue to climb across Kentucky, public health experts are warning it could impact staffing at hospitals.

At the governor's COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, Kentucky Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said as community spread climbs, so will the number of infected healthcare workers.

"One of the concerns we have for hospitals is not that we will first run out of bed space but that we may not have enough healthcare workers to staff all those beds," Dr. Stack said.

Stack said that most healthcare workers are catching the virus in their personal time, not at work.

"If we keep spreading infection more easily, more of the people we rely on to keep us safe and to treat us when we're sick will themselves be sick and unavailable," he said.

Gov. Andy Beshear also shared a message for frontline workers Wednesday.

"I know you're tired," he said. "I know you probably go to work scared often. But you are so special and we appreciate the fact that you keep showing up to care for those that need you," he said.

As of Wednesday, over 70 Kentucky counties were in the critical "red zone" for new reports of coronavirus. Governor Beshear continues to call on people to follow his "red zone" guidelines, which includes avoiding gatherings of all sizes and working from home.