Kentucky hospitals near capacity as COVID surge continues

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Posted at 6:57 PM, Aug 19, 2021

(LEX 18) — On Thursday, Kentucky reported 4,836 new COVID-19cases and a positivity rate of 12.75%.

As this surge happens, Governor Andy Beshear says Kentucky is running out of hospital capacity.

"The capacity that we have - based on the staffing that we have - is reaching a critical point," Beshear said during his Thursday update.

The key phrase there is "based on staffing." Beshear explained that while some hospitals may have physical beds available, they cannot use them if they do not have enough medical staff available.

"A bed without a medical professional is just a bed," said Beshear. "That's not treatment."

Beshear says hospital staffing is becoming a problem in Kentucky. As of Thursday, he said there are at least 21 hospitals across Kentucky with critical staffing shortages.

"Our hospitals are absolutely filling up," said Beshear. "And that person who wants to argue that COVID isn't serious and isn't real, I really hope doesn't need that bed."

The governor said Kentucky hospitals are also facing the following challenges:

  • Inability to transfer patients due to lack of available beds, including pediatric cases
  • Crisis standards of care being implemented
  • Cancelation of elective or non-emergency procedures
  • Health care staffing shortages
  • Emergency medical staffing shortages
  • EMS struggling to provide 911 emergency services and support transfers and transports to and from hospital
  • Increased ER visits solely for COVID-19 testing

Kentucky's Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says there's hope - the COVID vaccines. He says all the available vaccines greatly reduce your chance to get seriously sick or hospitalized.

Stack also reminds people that the longer they stay unvaccinated, the more serious this virus can get.

"The virus will continue to mutate. It doesn't run out of tricks, ever. As long as it's propagating, it'll continue to find new tricks," said Dr. Stack. "And what will happen is, like the governor said, if it gets smart enough, then the people who choose not to get vaccinated will get wiped out."