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Kentucky hospitals quickly approaching critical level

September 8, 2021 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — While Kentucky’s health care system is not yet at the point where some hospitals would have to consider rationing care, the state is “quickly approaching that point,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday.

The fact that Kentucky continues to report high numbers of new cases in daily reports is a sign that the spread of the virus, fueled by the more contagious delta variant, is still surging throughout the state, he warned.

“No matter what age you are, this thing is deadly and it’s out there. You need to get vaccinated, you need to wear your mask,” Beshear said in a video posted to social media.

Kentucky reported 4,468 COVID-19 cases and 30 new virus-related deaths Wednesday. Roughly 1,220 of those new cases are among people 18 or younger.

Some 2,424 Kentuckians are hospitalized with the virus, up 71 from Tuesday. Statewide, intensive care units are at 90% capacity.

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A federal medical team arrived in Kentucky over the weekend to assist St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, which has had to convert space to keep up with the influx of ICU patients due to the COVID-19 surge.

“We have been overwhelmed for a while. Their arrival has allowed us to kind of recuperate, regroup and get better care,” Donald Lloyd II, president of St. Clair Regional Medical Center, said Tuesday.

Five 10-member Federal Emergency Management Agency EMS strike teams are based in Corbin, Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro and Somerset, to assist with transfers and transporting COVID-19 patients throughout the state.

St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Hazard, The Medical Center at Bowling Green and Pikeville Medical Center have also received assistance from Kentucky’s National Guard.

According to state data, 58% of the total state population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, below the national average.

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Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.