FRANKFORT, Ky. — The number of COVID-19 patients needing an ICU bed in Kentucky has increased by 500% since July 1.
“We have not allowed our hospitals systems to be overrun,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday. “We cannot allow that to happen, and I’m going to be willing to do what it takes to prevent that from happening.
Beshear repeated his stance during his semiregular “Team Kentucky” update that he doesn’t plan on implementing any new restrictions as coronavirus cases continue climbing, but nothing is off the table.
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says hospitalizations are climbing at a rate similar to the surge we saw last fall.
“We treat this virus casually and cavalierly at our own peril. We can’t afford to do that,” Stack said. “Getting vaccinated and getting all of us vaccinated is essential to getting away from the mess we find ourselves in for more than a year and a half now.”
A group of 11 hospital systems announced that they are mandating vaccines for their workers, hoping to encourage others to get one.
“We do that not lightly,” Baptist Health CEO Gerard Colman said. “We do that as a serious part of our mission to really not only reduce the spread, but reduce the spell of illness for all the people we serve and our caregivers.”
The hospital systems that made the announcement Thursday are Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Baptist Health, CHI Saint Joseph Health, King’s Daughters Health System, Med Center Health, Norton Healthcare, Pikeville Medical Center, St. Claire Healthcare, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, UK Healthcare, and UofL Health.
“We strongly believe that this vaccine is our hope and our tool to protect our patients, our staff, and our families,” Appalachian Regional Healthcare CEO Hollie Harris Phillips said.
Beshear says more voices are needed to get more people vaccinated and just to take steps to be safe.
“No. 1, we need local leadership, leaders in community that people know and know their families,” he said. “And No. 2, we need the private sector stepping up, setting an example that we have already seen works.”
The vaccination rate for adults in Kentucky has gone up by a full percentage point from last week. Now, 64 percent have gotten their shots.
Since the beginning of March, 92% of all COVID-19 cases in Kentucky came from unvaccinated people. 91% of hospitalizations and nearly 89% of all deaths from COVID-19 since that time were also unvaccinated.