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Kentucky surpasses 9,000 coronavirus-related deaths

October 7, 2021 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s coronavirus-related death toll surpassed 9,000 on Thursday, a grim reminder of the trauma still being inflicted by the pandemic despite the downward trend in virus cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

In its daily report, the Bluegrass State posted 50 more virus-related deaths, pushing the death count to at least 9,022 since the pandemic began.

“That’s more than we’ve lost in any modern war, any two of them put together,” Beshear said. “It’s the largest loss of life over a period of time than any of us have ever lived through.”

The state will endure more “tough news” from additional COVID-19 deaths in coming weeks, even as it appears “the strength of the pandemic is waning,” he said at a news conference.

“While we are all excited about the trends and where we’re going, let’s remember that we’re going to live with these scars and trauma and difficulty and loss,” the governor said.

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In another reminder of the ongoing COVID-19 threat, 16 pediatric patients are hospitalized in Kentucky due to the virus, Beshear said. Six of the children are in intensive care units and four are on ventilators, he said.

Overall virus-related hospitalizations in Kentucky dropped 17% in the past week, easing pressure on beleaguered hospitals, he said. Still, 58 of 96 hospitals in the state continue to report critical staffing shortages, the governor said.

Admissions to intensive care units and ventilator use due to COVID-19 also have been moving downward, he said. On Thursday, more than 1,570 virus patients were hospitalized in Kentucky, including 472 in ICUs, the state reported.

Meanwhile, the rate of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus dropped below 9%, dipping to 8.67% on Thursday.

While the virus’s spread is lessening, Beshear added: “To say we are fully emerging from it may be premature, but we are moving in the right direction.”

Since March, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have overwhelmingly been among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Kentuckians.

Beshear reported vaccination gains, with more than 4,300 Kentuckians receiving COVID-19 shots on Wednesday. He said there’s no “silver bullet” to overcome vaccine resistance.

“We’re not to the point where everybody who hasn’t gotten vaccinated is refusing, but we are to a point where it’s harder to get folks vaccinated, for two reasons,” he said. “No. 1, either the groups are harder to reach or they’re more resistant. That doesn’t mean they refuse. And No. 2, there are fewer people. We’ve gotten a whole lot of people vaccinated.”

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Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.