Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says hospitals are reaching a critical level due to increased COVID-19 cases. The current positivity rate of 12.45% has reached the highest level recorded during the crisis.
His Thursday afternoon news conference included pleas from hospital officials across the state and a man who survived a bout with coronavirus. All asked for unvaccinated residents to get inoculated.
Trish Smith, director of Appalachian Regional Healthcare Command Center, reported that a surge of new patients caused her hospital system to struggle. Other medical groups who they often call on for help have called her organization for assistance.
“We are struggling with limited resources including limited hospital and ICU beds,” Smith explained. She added that 97% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated.
Beshear cited challenges facing hospitals. Those issues include an inability to transfer patients due to lack of beds (including pediatric cases), crisis standards of care being implemented, cancelation of elective or non-emergency procedures, health care staff shortages, and EMS struggles to provide 911 emergency services and to support transfers and transports to and from hospitals.
He also said many more people are going to emergency rooms solely for COVID-19 testing. Those looking to get tested need to find other available options, he insisted.
Beshear reported more than 2.4 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of the vaccine. He noted how the demographic of those dying from virus has shifted. From March through May 2021, 94% of COVID deaths were people over the age of 50. That rate decreased to 84% for deaths from June to August 2021. He explained that means more younger people are falling victim to the pandemic.
He will declare August 22-28 ”Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Week.”. Beshear said that getting vaccinated was the best way for people to show their appreciation to frontline medical professionals, but he urged everyone to do something.
Next week, Beshear said he expects announcements regarding National Guard assistance and reciprocity of medical licensure for out-of-state health care professionals who may be needed to help Kentucky hospitals later this year.
Beshear also responded to social media posts regarding a morning appearance at the Kentucky State Fair in which he is photographed not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. Beshear criticized the posts as “misinformation” and accused those who shared the pictures of lying. The governor showed pictures of the same event, which took place underneath a tent in the fairground’s parking lot. Those photographs showed Beshear was not wearing a mask but standing outdoors underneath a tent.