Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Thursday was his state's second-highest day of new COVID-19 cases ever: 5,401 new diagnoses, only a few hundred below the all-time high of 5,742 on Jan. 6.
Ninety percent of hospital beds at St. Elizabeth hospitals are taken, and they’ve reached 80% of their ICU capacity. A majority of those hospitalizations are coronavirus-related, and the large influx of patients is overwhelming the staff.
“It’s definitely exhausting to see more and more patients come in that are unvaccinated and that are really struggling,” St. Elizabeth nurse Courtney Fales said.
At a news conference Thursday, frontline workers explained how the majority of COVID-19 patients they’re treating are unvaccinated.
“We have to work twice as hard,” Fales said. “It takes more staff, it takes more, you know, bodies to keep these patients stable.”
The number of hospitalizations and patients on ventilators continues to rise.
“There’s been several (patients) that I had very great relationships that did not make it through and I was one of the last people that they saw and had a conversation with, and that sticks with you,” St. Elizabeth nurse Sean Kathman said. “It’s very hard.”
As of Aug. 26, 2,115 patients are hospitalized statewide. Fewer than 300 were in the same position on July 14, and the influx is causing concern for how other emergency patients are being treated.
“We’re never in a position where doctors worried where they need to choose between treating a patient who can’t breathe because of COVID or treat a patient who’s bleeding out because of a car accident,” Beshear said. “But that is the strain that our hospitals are under.”
He also stated he would have issued a mask mandate if he still had the authority.
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Aug. 23 to limit Beshear’s emergency powers as they pertain to combating the COVID-19 pandemic.