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COVID-19 appears to plateau in Kentucky but at a rate hospitals can't sustain, Gov. Beshear warns

Alex Acquisto, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in News & Features

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, the week-over-week volume of new cases, and the rate of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus appear to have plateaued, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

"We are hoping that in the very least we are plateauing," the governor said during his twice-weekly update in Frankfort. "Certainly our hope is that we still start to see a decrease. It's overall good news, but we're still in a very dangerous situation."

While a plateau is promising, the level at which at least hospitalizations have plateaued is still overwhelming the state's health care system, he said. Of the state's 96 acute care hospitals, 67% report critical staffing shortages, and more than 500 members of the Kentucky Army National Guard are assisting at 29 hospitals where staffing is tight and resources are thin.

"In past surges, we've been able to handle plateaus because we have the hospital capacity . . . because we masked and could put out orders on masking," Beshear said. But, "a plateau at the level (we've) reached," and without the ability to enforce a statewide mask mandate, "we could not sustain it in our hospitals."

 

The number of coronavirus patients filling intensive care unit beds and breathing on ventilators has yet to plateau. Only 130 adult ICU beds were open across Kentucky on Thursday. A total of 2,223 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 625 are in an ICU and 424 are on a ventilator. Twenty-one children are hospitalized with the virus, eight are in an ICU and five are on a ventilator.

Beshear also announced 4,099 new cases of the virus in Kentucky and 44 more deaths. The positivity rate dropped again slightly to 11.33%, down from 11.66% on Wednesday.

Roughly 60% of the state population is at least partially vaccinated, and nearly 70% of eligible residents ages 12 and older are vaccinated. Those who aren't fully inoculated continue to drive infections, hospitalizations and deaths. From March 1 to Sept. 22, 87% of the state's new cases, 92% of all coronavirus hospitalizations and 85% of deaths were unvaccinated Kentuckians.

(c)2021 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.