KENTUCKY — Hospitals across Kentucky are seeing some of the highest number of COVID-19 patients they’ve had since the start of the pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • COVID numbers are up across the state

  • ICU beds are filling up in some hospitals

  • Doctors say the COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool to prevent hospitalization in the fight against the virus

According to the Kentucky Hospital Association, hospitalizations are high for COVID-19 currently. KHA said 454 COVID-19 patients are in the ICU, making up 37% of ICU patients as of Friday.

Those beds are filling up.

Kha said of the state’s 1,401 staffed ICU beds, 1,223 are occupied, leaving just 178 available. 

As of Friday, Jan. 14, there were 292 COVID-19 positive patients in Norton healthcare hospitals. That number was 298 on Thursday, the highest it's been in the pandemic.

On Dec. 11, the number was well under 200. Doctors say to prevent overwhelming hospitalizations, vaccines and booster shots are crucial.

“That’s the concern. We have the capacity within Norton Healthcare to take care of many more patients than we’re taking care of, so that doesn’t need to be a concern that there’s not healthcare out there for folks who need it,” said Chief Administrative Officer of Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital Charlotte Ipsan. “If you are vaccinated. If you are boosted, you are less likely to need hospitalization.”

23 of those 292 patients were on ventilators as of Friday. Not all of these patients were admitted for COVID-19. Some were admitted for other ailments, and tested positive while in Norton's care.

Norton is not currently testing everyone that’s asymptomatic, as it has in other periods in the pandemic. With supply chain issues, the healthcare system wants to preserve tests for those who really need them, Ipsan said.

“Nothing really is out of the question these days. We have learned that through this pandemic,” she said.

Earlier in the week, state data showed Northern Kentucky’s ICU utilization rate was at 100%. The region also led the state in overall hospital bed and ventilator utilization.

According to the region’s largest health provider, St. Elizabeth, as of Thursday, 34 COVID-19 patients were in the ICU. 27 of them were unvaccinated. 18 were on ventilators, and of those, 14 were unvaccinated.

Health officials continue to make the case that the vaccine is the best weapon in fighting the virus.

The KHA’s statistics dashboard is available here. It shows the details of all current hospitalizations in the state.