Gov. Beshear: Kentucky is a ‘state on fire with COVID’

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Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 2:36 PM CDT
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KENTUCKY (WFIE) - Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear held a statewide COVID-19 briefing Monday.

He addressed the rise in positive cases, as well as steps the state is taking to assist hospitals with the increased demand.

As of Monday, more than 2.6 million Kentuckians have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The governor says that is 59% of the state’s population and 69% of the state’s vaccine-eligible population.

That number also represents 71% of Kentucky adults.

“We are at a point now where only you can make a difference,” says Governor Beshear.

During Monday’s briefing, 14 News asked the governor what more the state could do to encourage the remaining population to get vaccinated.

”If you are unvaccinated,” says the governor, “we are worried about you. We are not trying to impose something on you. We are not try to be a ‘big government’ and push something on you. We are worried about you. We just want you to live.”

You can watch the entire briefing below.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines in the commonwealth here.

As of Monday, Governor Beshear says the state has already lost about 8,000 people to COVID-19. He says the virus is as bad as it has ever been during the pandemic.

Beshear says Bowling Green has been hit hard by COVID. Two nurses from the area spoke about their situation at the Bowling Green Hospital.

Alicia Hume, a clinical outcomes specialist at The Medical Center at Bowling Green Emergency Hospital says they are seeing more unvaccinated patients as well as younger-aged patients.

Hume also says those patients are more sick than those who are vaccinated.

Melissa Gilpin, a clinical educator with the hospital added, they are struggling to keep up the demand for taking care of COVID patients.

“We are overwhelmed and our staff is tired,” says Gilpin, in reference to keeping up with the demand.

This comes as Governor Beshear says 69% of Kentucky hospitals are reporting “critical staffing shortages.”

He also says some unvaccinated patients end up asking for the vaccine after it’s too late.

Laura Gevedon is a healthcare worker in the cardio thoracic vascular unit at Pikeville Medical Center. She was moved to the COVID unit to help keep up with patient care.

“Every patient we have had has said they regret not getting the vaccine,” says Gevedon. “Every single patient.”

Beshear says he does not have the power to mandate mask indoors, but he does have the power to help the healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19.

That’s why the Kentucky National Guard has been sent to support those hospitals.

National Guard support in KY.
National Guard support in KY.(Gov. Beshear)

FEMA strike teams have also been providing services at multiple hospitals in KY, like St. Clair.

Beshear says in order to help better report their numbers for Covid they have done three things. They are as follows:

1. Updated the population of vaccinated people in KY. based on the 2019 census.

2. Received data about the identities of those who were “unknowns.”

3. Received data for the number of Kentuckians who have gotten vaccinated in and outside of KY.

Changes made to support KY. Covid numbers
Changes made to support KY. Covid numbers(Gov. Beshear)

Dr. Steven Stacks says Monoclonal Antibody administration in KY. has increased. He explained Monoclonal Antibodies are synthetic laboratory created antibodies that give people a temporary 90 day immunity boost.

Monoclonal Antibody increase in KY.
Monoclonal Antibody increase in KY.(Gov. Beshear)

Stacks also said while this is a helpful tool they are using, it is a lot easier, and more effective to get a vaccine. Stacks also reported the highest positive Covid rate in any age group is in the 10-19 year age group. Over half of people in that age group are not vaccinated.

He also urged people to talk with their loved ones about getting the vaccine.

Stacks says there will be important decisions for school boards to make for precautions against Covid in the schools.

Beshear says they received a grant in KY at about $134 million for any school district to choose a vendor for a Covid testing program.

KY. School Covid Testing Program
KY. School Covid Testing Program(Gov. Beshear)

“There are qualified vendors, and again you have to go through the RFP process that are out there, that any school district can choose from. Now we don’t have it to where you can just choose anyone to do the testing, they have to be apart of the program,” says Beshear.

Beshear also advised schools to pair universal masking with the testing, otherwise kids won’t be able to stay in school.

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