FRANKFORT, Ky. — March 6, 2022 marks the two year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kentucky. As the virus began to spread, it shifted how people lived their daily lives at work, school and even at their places of business.
COVID-19 didn’t make its way to Kentucky until March 6, 2020, which was months after it was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Governor Andy Beshear immediately briefed the people of Kentucky.
“The individual that has tested positive for the virus is in Lexington and is currently being treated in isolation. This was a result from a test kit that the state lab ran and we just got the results today,” said Gov. Beshear.
Following the briefing, Gov. Beshear declared a state of emergency that immediately affected schools, jobs, and places of business. Social distancing, mask wearing and only traveling for essential reasons was highly encouraged. As months went on, COVID-19 cases rose, and now nearly 14,000 Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Nurses and doctors felt the strain, and that’s something the Kentucky Nurses Association CEO Delanor Manson is continuing to make lawmakers aware of.
“Nurses are tired mentally and physically and we have to support them. Some of the other things that are happening are nurses are not being treated with respect in their roles. They’re being spit on, hit, kicked, and people curse at them everyday. Who wants to go to work in that environment?” Manson said.
The pandemic pushed healthcare workers to the point of breaking. In October 2021, Gov. Beshear stated Kentucky was 12% to 20% short of “needed nursing volume.”
“We have a huge nursing shortage now and we will continue to have a very large nursing shortage if we do not invest in nurses now. So we’re talking pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic,” Manson said.
Beshear predicts that by 2024 Kentucky will need 16,000 more nurses. Which could be difficult, since doctors say the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. Dr. Steven Stack serves as a commissioner at the Kentucky Department of Public Health and was selected to be a part of Beshear’s staff.
Stack closely monitors the CDC’s guidance in relation to what that means for Kentuckians.
“COVID-19 is not going away, we’re going to have to live with it, learn to live with it and co-exist with it. We now have an abundance of testing, we have vaccinations and boosters that can prevent the worst harms of the disease and we have treatments for people who get sick nonetheless,” said Dr. Stack.
Gov. Beshear has made it known that he and his staff will continue to create the state’s guidance based on the CDC's recommendations. For Kentucky's recent COVID-19 guidance, click here.