LEXINGTON, Ky. — New data shows hospital beds across the Commonwealth are filling up.

What You Need To Know

  • New data says hospital beds are filling up in Kentucky

  • Lexington seeing highest total of hospitalizations since March

  • University of Minnesota analyzed datea to create database to track hospitalizations

  • Rural hospitals are filling up quickly

While a portion of the occupancy is connected to COVID-19 cases, a majority are due to other illnesses.

“Today, in Lexington, we had the highest total of hospitalizations of COVID-19 in Lexington residents that we’ve seen so far with 97 people. It’s worth noting though that’s only the people of Lexington,” said Kevin Hall, spokesperson of the Lexington Fayette County Health Department. “So people who are, any of the surrounding counties who come to Fayette County for medical treatment in hospitalizations aren’t in that number. So it’s well over 100 people with COVID-19 in hospitals in Lexington right now.”

Hall said the number of hospitalizations from the last few days is going up.

“We put this information up on our website, lfchd.org, so people can see. Not only the number of cases and not only the number of deaths but other trends including age breakdown and the number of hospitalizations,” Hall said.

Pinar Karaca-Mandic is a professor at the University of Minnesota. She and her team analyzed data from the Department of Health and Human Services to create the university's COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project for the nation.

“So what this is saying is in Lexington, the average hospital is reporting 13% of their beds are occupied by COVID(-19),” said Karaca-Mandic. “In Louisville, an average of these 6 hospitals reporting in Louisville, is reporting 16% is occupied by COVID(-19).”

While those figures seem low, she explains the numbers increase when looking at the overall hospitalization for patients coming in for other treatment.

“So 83% of all hospital beds in Lexington and 68% (in Louisville) of all hospital beds for the average hospital again, are occupied by COVID(-19) plus non-COVID(-19) patients. 88% of the ICU beds, 72% of the ICU beds are filled,” said Karaca-Mandic. 

A similar scenario is taking place also in rural Kentucky.

“Today, our bigger problem, we are having a surge of patients. I call them the gap care patients because we have, we’re full today but not with COVID(-19),” said Sheila Currans, CEO of Harrison Memorial Hospital. 

She said a lot of elderly patients with other chronic illnesses are now seeking hospital care.

“Many people just pushed it off. And in that aging population, you can reach a critical point where you can’t push it off any longer. So we’re actually at capacity with today are those patients that have just a multitude of conditions, not COVID(-19) related,” Currans said.

Ultimately the concern from medical experts is that hospitalizations will continue increasing.

“What I fear is, as we move into rest of December, we start seeing the case increase that’s anticipated from Thanksgiving,” Hall said. “Too many people traveled and had family gatherings when they weren’t supposed to do that to help keep those numbers low. So in the next few days, we anticipate the number of cases growing and the number of hospitalizations, unfortunately, will go up as well.”

The COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project shows hospital beds in rural and smaller areas of Kentucky are filling up quicker than those in bigger cities, largely due to resources.