Governor warns Covid-19 is filling up Kentucky hospitals; state’s positive-test rate is headed for a record right away

Kentucky Health News graphs, from state data

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

With the pandemic in Kentucky about to exceed the record levels it set in December and January, Gov. Andy Beshear told his constituents, “We’re at an alarming point. We’re pretty close to a critical point. By the end of the week, we’re likely to have right now more people hospitalized for Covid than at any point in this pandemic, so take. This. Seriously.”

The number of Covid-19 patients in Kentucky hospitals has increased for 33 straight days and stands at 1,528. The record is 1,817, set in mid-December, so the daily rate of gain would have to increase to meet Beshear’s projection, but he warned, “Our hospitals are filling up. Some of them are at full capacity.”

Beshear has said he would look at severity of cases, not just number of cases, in deciding further measures to fight the coronavirus. The number of patients in intensive care, 429, is much closer to surpassing the record of 460, also set in mid-December. So is the number of patients on mechanical ventilation, 224; the record is 254.

The metric that seems likely to set a new record first is the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus over the last seven days. Monday, that figure was 12.4%, just shy of the 12.45% recorded on Jan. 10. For the past month, it has been increasing a percentage point approximately every four days.

The state reported 6,778 new coronavirus cases Saturday through Monday, raising the seven-day rolling average to 2,709, virtually double what it was 15 days ago. The record is 4,002, set Jan, 12.

The state confirmed 25 more deaths from Covid-19 over the three days, pushing the average over the last week above nine deaths per day. Two weeks ago, it was just over four a day. The state’s death toll is 7,451.

Beshear said 11 of the 25 deaths were in people younger than 55, and he gave their counties and ages: Mason, 34; Fayette, 39; Montgomery, 43; Jefferson, 44 and 45; Fleming, 45; Monroe, 50; Henderson, 53; Calloway and Grayson, 54; and Adair, 55.

“These are people taken far too young, and it shows that it can happen to any of us,” the governor said in a Facebook video, urging his audience to get vaccinated and reject arguments against vaccination and masking.

“Don’t fight the things that we know allow us to help one another,” he said. “The lives and the health of other Kentuckians depend on you.” He told Lexington’s¬†WKYT, “Misinformation is killing people.”

The station reported that Beshear said he would not impose capacity limits on businesses, but it did not quote him directly as saying so. He has scheduled a briefing on the pandemic for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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