EDGEWOOD, Ky. — On Thursday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced he is sending National Guard members to support St. Elizabeth Medical Center staff in Northern Kentucky.
The St. Elizabeth contingent is part of more than 300 additional Guard members that Beshear is deploying to 21 hospitals across the commonwealth. Beshear said he is sending the help due to the increasing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state.
“This shows that every hospital is bursting at the seams, that they desperately need help and that we are a state full of more desperately sick people than we have ever seen,” Beshear said in a release. “I believe this is the largest deployment of the Guard in this crisis health care situation in our history. Every time we’ve asked, they’ve stepped up and served us so proudly.”
Beshear has already authorized more than 100 Guard members to St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Hazard, The Medical Center at Bowling Green and Pikeville Medical Center.
“In coordination with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, we’ve now mobilized more than 400 soldiers and airmen to help provide logistical and administrative support to 25 hospitals across the commonwealth,” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Howay, director of the joint staff, Kentucky National Guard. “Supporting this critical mission impacts our service members as well since we’re part of the same communities we’re assisting. While our mission is temporary, it serves to highlight the importance of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and, most importantly, getting vaccinated.”
During the same announcement, Beshear reported that 60 of 96 Kentucky hospitals currently have critical staffing shortages. He also said there are only 90 adult intensive care beds available throughout the commonwealth, the lowest ever during the pandemic.
“Folks, our hospital situation has never been more dire in my lifetime than it is right now,” Beshear said.
Beshear reported 2,587,406 Kentuckians had received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning 70 percent of Kentucky adults were vaccinated as of Thursday.