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Governor: KY Health care officials sound the alarm on delta

Kentucky Doctor on COVID-19: 'It's hard to tell a 40-year-old they're going to be dead within 24 hours and there's nothing we can do.'

By Crystal Staley/Sebastian Kitchen

Frankfort, KY - On Thursday during his weekly Team Kentucky update, Gov. Andy Beshear said the state is supporting hospitals in the fight against COVID-19 with expanded personnel and testing assistance, as health care professionals sound the alarm on the delta variant's threat, even to young Kentuckians.

From March 2020 to May 2021, before the delta variant was dominant in the United States, 74% of COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky were among those 70 and older, and 98% were among those 50 and older. From June 2021 to Sept. 15, 2021, once the delta variant became dominant, the share of younger COVID-19 patients dying increased significantly. During that time, 48% of COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky were among those 70 and older, and 88% were among those 50 and older.

"The No.1 thing that we can do to get through this is to get vaccinated," said Gov. Beshear. "I think the tough conversations we're having with those we love who may be hesitant to get the vaccine are making a difference, but we need a lot more of those conversations."

As of today, Kentucky has 93 total adult ICU beds left. Out of 96 Kentucky hospitals, 66 are experiencing critical staffing shortages.

"Within the last month or so, we've been seeing 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds and 50-year-olds come in and within 24 to 48 hours they die," said Traci Sanchez, MD, KDMC. "Families are angry. They're lost. Patients are lost because they know they're dying. It's hard to tell someone who is 40 years old that they're going to be dead within 24 hours and there's nothing we can do."

The Governor said more than two dozen hospitals are receiving or soon will receive Kentucky National Guard support.

Three other doctors from King's Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Ashland and the chief executive at Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana shared the pain and sudden loss they see families go through every day due to COVID-19.

"We have seen significant changes this week alone. We have been concerned about our oxygen pressure and being able to support all of the oxygen BiPAP and ventilators for these COVID patients. We have had to order 10 additional ventilators this week, and we've had to cancel all elective surgeries to be able to staff our COVID units, ICU units and the rest of our floors," said Stacy Caudill, MD, chief medical officer, KDMC. "We've seen an overwhelming volume of patients in our emergency department and in our urgent care. We have seen our positivity continue to increase, which tells us in a couple of weeks our admissions are only going to go up."

"I've been in codes not just for people my age, but my kid's age. I think that when you see that you really think, and it really scares us about going forward," said James Goetz, MD, KDMC. "I just ask everyone out there to get vaccinated and help all of us here."

"COVID is a very difficult disease to care for. Our treatment options are extremely limited. Oftentimes despite our best efforts and all that we can do to try to prevent the progression of this disease, people still worsen. People pass regardless of whatever measures we can take," said Josh Bryant, DO, KDMC. "It's one thing to have an end-of-life conversation with someone who's had time to live and prepare. It's a very different conversation to have when you've having this with a 20-, 30- or 40-year-old."

"Despite our hospital being ground zero in Kentucky for the onset of the pandemic 18 months ago, this week we are being hit with a COVID surge like never before since the onset of the pandemic," said Dr. Stephen Toadvine, chief executive officer at Harrison Memorial Hospital. "We are setting records in terms of our volume of patients being seen in our emergency room and our urgent treatment centers. Our test positivity rate in our COVID clinic is well-exceeding 30%. We've hit an all-time high in terms of the number of inpatients currently admitted with COVID."

Monoclonal Antibody Utilization
The Governor said the week ending Sept. 14, Kentucky hospitals used 5,063 COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment courses and had 6,883 additional courses on hand. Just a week before, Kentucky hospitals distributed 3,642 monoclonal antibody courses and had 7,435 additional courses on hand. The trend indicates that soon Kentucky may not have enough monoclonal antibody courses to meet the demand, as the federal government recently announced a national shortage.

COVID-19 Update
Today, Gov. Beshear reported 2,631,420 Kentuckians have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning 69% of all eligible Kentuckians (those 12 and older) have received at least one dose.

Sept. 16 2021, COVID-19 Case Information
  • Cases: 4,891
  • Deaths: 62
  • Positivity Rate: 13.00%
  • Hospitalizations: 2,453
  • Intensive Care Admittances: 667
  • On Ventilators: 448
The week ending Sept. 12, the state's seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate was the highest it has ever been since the commonwealth had adequate testing supplies, at 13.88%.

From March 1 to Sept. 15, 2021, 87.1% of COVID-19 cases, 92.1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 84.6% of COVID-19 deaths have been among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Kentuckians.

In addition to getting vaccinated for COVID-19, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, encouraged Kentuckians to get the influenza vaccine to help lessen the strain on hospitals.

"In a typical winter, flu always drives up the number of people in the hospital. In bad years, hospitals really get strained or taxed with the number of influenza patients who fill them," said Dr. Stack. "The flu vaccine does protect large numbers of people and prevents substantial burdens to the hospitals. So if we all get immunized for the flu, we can keep the hospitals with more capacity and more able to care for COVID patients and other patients as well."

This story was posted on 2021-09-16 16:46:57
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