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Gov. Beshear: Kentucky hospitals are ‘on the brink’

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 9:07 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2021 at 7:14 PM CDT
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KENTUCKY (WFIE) - Governor Andy Beshear gave another Team Kentucky update Thursday.

He talked about the coronavirus in the commonwealth and how it is impacting hospitals across the state.

The governor described the current status of hospitals as “on the brink,” as hospitals struggle to keep up with the demand of patients hospitalized with the virus.

This week, the commonwealth not only set a new record for the number of total positive cases, but also for hospitalizations, ICU admissions and coronavirus patients on ventilators.

“When we don’t reduce the amount of disease we have out there,” says Gov. Beshear, “we reduce the capacity for you to get help for anything other than COVID too.”

On Thursday, Gov. Beshear said if the current trend continues, Kentucky will run out of beds. He says the state requested 40 ventilators from the federal government to help keep up with demand.

“We are seeing shortages of IV pumps and vital-signs machines,” says the governor. “So now, it is impacting even the everyday operation of a hospital, beyond just needing the monoclonal antibodies or the oxygen or some individual things for COVID patients.”

As of Thursday, 62 of the state’s 96 hospitals are experiencing a “critical staffing shortage,” according to the governor. This means those hospitals are out of health care capacity.

This comes as the Delta variant burns through the commonwealth at a rate never seen before.

“We are suffering the most at a time when it is the most preventable,” says Gov. Beshear.

The governor is pleading with the public to take the virus seriously and to have those tough conversations with unvaccinated loved ones.

“It is breaking that Thanksgiving Dinner rule and having a difficult conversation with someone you love that is not vaccinated,” says Gov. Beshear. “The fact that you are willing to put your relationship with them on the line speaks volumes to how serious this is and how much you care about them. It may be the one thing that gets it done.”

During Thursday’s update, state leaders also addressed the alarming rate at which children are testing positive.

The governor says one in every four positive cases is a child.

“You look at children - more cases in children than we ever thought that we would see,” says Gov. Beshear. “That’s nationwide, and that’s in Kentucky.”

The state has also increased its number of daily COVID-19 tests. Gov. Beshear says the increase has, at times, put a strain on supplies.

“What we used to be doing in a month, we are now doing in a week, in terms of testing,” says the governor, “and that’s picking up.”

You can watch Gov. Beshear’s full Team Kentucky briefing below.

Meanwhile, officials with the Green River District Health Department told 14 News Thursday they have hit a new peak in terms of COVID-19 cases.

“I think anyone who’s been watching this pretty closely, this doesn’t come as a surprise,” Clay Horton, public health director for the district said. “The question is now is when will we peak and when will we see those numbers start to come down...”

Health officials say it’s impossible to tell at this moment.

Vaccination rates are low across western Kentucky. State data shows four Kentucky counties in our area have vaccination rates under 40% and three counties have rates 45% or lower.

Some of those counties have some of the highest incidents rates in the region.

While still in the red, data shows Daviess and Hancock Counties currently have lower incidence rates in the region. Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly pointed this out during the county’s live COVID briefing on Thursday.

“You’re going to find one of the reasons Daviess County is where it’s at, and Hancock County is where it’s at - is that we have the highest vaccination rates in the Green River District,” Mattingly said.

As daily case numbers are still high, the pressure is put on the local hospitals.

“General hospitalizations have been higher,” Horton said. “All of the hospitals speak for themselves in terms of what their up-to-date numbers are, but the trend has been that hospitals are reaching capacity. They’re taxed...”

Owensboro Health officials said during the live briefing they still have capacity left, but it depends on staffing.

“It really comes down to our staff,” Dr. Francis DuFrayne, chief medical officer of Owensboro Health said. “The number of team members, the number of nurses, we’re really no different across the country, there is a shortage. And now team members are tired, nurses are tired...”

The Muhlenberg County Health Department reported 60 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths on Thursday.

Out of these 60 new cases, health officials say 36 patients were unvaccinated, one was partially vaccinated and 10 were fully vaccinated. The other 13 cases were too young to be eligible for the vaccine.

This brings the countywide number to 4,355 total cases and 78 deaths.

Muhlenberg County now has 374 active cases.

Here are the all-time totals of confirmed positive cases and deaths in our area of Kentucky:

  • Daviess Co. - 13,495 cases, 212 deaths, 51% vaccinated
  • Muhlenberg Co. - 4,355 cases, 78 deaths
  • Hopkins Co. - 5,929 cases, 162 deaths
  • Ohio Co. - 3,372 cases, 59 deaths, 35.34% vaccinated
  • Henderson Co. - 6,365 cases, 88 deaths, 39.22% vaccinated
  • Webster Co. - 1,926 cases, 26 deaths, 38.75% vaccinated
  • McLean Co. - 1,139 cases, 32 deaths, 42.65% vaccinated
  • Union Co. - 2,025 cases, 19 deaths, 32.25% vaccinated
  • Hancock Co. - 1,060 cases, 16 deaths, 49.33% vaccinated

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