FRANKFORT, Ky. — Recent COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate have rivaled numbers we saw during the worst of the pandemic, but the death toll isn't rising at the same rate. 

What You Need To Know

  • COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate have been increasing

  • The COVID-19 death toll is not growing at the same rate

  • The Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) said vaccinations have made a big difference in improving outcomes

  • KHA also said hospitals better know how to treat severe COVID-19 complications now than at the start of the pandemic

The Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) said there are several contributing factors. The first difference is that vaccines are now widely available, which have been shown to be highly effective against severe COVID-19 complications and death

The Kentucky Department of Public Health said the vast majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among Kentuckians who are not vaccinated. 

Unlike at the beginning of the pandemic, healthcare workers have now learned new ways to treat those severe complications to better improve outcomes.

"We are in a much different place than we were before. Hospitals know how to treat this disease. They know which therapies work," said KHA President Nancy Galvagni.

In a message shared on social media Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear expressed concern over hospital capacity due to the rising number of COVID-19 patients.

"Our hospitals are filling up. Some of them are at full capacity. That means that if you are harmed in another way, there is less staff and maybe not even a bed for you to get he help that you need," said Beshear. "We are at an alarming point. We are pretty close to a critical point. By the end of the week, we are likely to have more people hospitalized right now for COVID than at any other point during this pandemic."

This statement came in a recorded video message, so Spectrum News 1 did not have a chance to ask clarifying questions. Beshear will hold a Team Kentucky briefing at 11:30 a.m. We expect him to go into more detail about which hospitals and how many are at risk of reaching capacity.

Despite the governor's statement, the most recent report from the KHA does not seem to indicate an overall overcrowding problem. However, keep in mind this data reflects hospital beds and ICU bed capacity from Aug. 10. 

It is clear that COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise.

Even with those trends in mind, Galvagni maintained that overall capacity at hospitals in Kentucky is in no immediate danger of overcrowding. If some individual hospitals do reach capacity, she said there are others in the region ready to help.

"The hospitals also know how to create additional capacity. They can create surge capacity and add beds if that is needed," Galvagni said.

Late last week, Sen. Rand Paul hosted a healthcare round table. The heads of several hospital systems weighed in on rising cases and capacity within their healthcare systems. You can find more from that reporting here.

The KHA publishes new COVID-19 statistics, including hospital and ICU bed capacity, every Wednesday. That is when we expect to see updated numbers reflecting overall hospital capacity in the state.