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Kentucky reports 88 more virus-related deaths over 3 days

September 20, 2021 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky reported 88 more coronavirus-related deaths from Saturday to Monday, including several virus patients who were in their 20s and 30s as the fast-spreading delta variant continues to afflict the state, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The Bluegrass State’s virus-related death toll throughout the pandemic reached at least 8,339, which the governor called “far, far, far too many.” Three Kentuckians in their early 20s were among the latest fatalities, and several others were in their 30s, Beshear said at a news conference.

It was the latest sign that younger people are among those being hit hard by the highly contagious delta variant. Meanwhile, vaccination rates are lowest among younger Kentuckians.

Kentucky reached another vaccination milestone, with 70% of Kentuckians eligible to receive COVID-19 shots having received at least one dose of the vaccine, the Democratic governor said.

“With everything we’re going through right now, we’re focused on not enough people being vaccinated,” he said. “And that’s the power of this delta variant. Getting 70% of a commonwealth vaccinated against a brand new virus is a big feat. And it’s taken a whole lot of work.”

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Beshear quickly added: “What we’ve learned with the delta variant is, this is not enough.”

Among Kentuckians ages 12 to 17, 46% have received at least a first COVID-19 shot, according to the state. The governor reported Monday that 21 Kentucky children are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Half of Kentuckians ages 18 to 29 have received at least a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 63% of the state’s residents ages 30 to 39 have received at least the first shot. Kentuckians ages 65 and older lead the pack, with 91% having gotten at least one dose.

Most COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths since March 1 have been among people unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The governor reported more than 8,500 new COVID-19 cases statewide from Saturday to Monday.

Last week’s coronavirus case total was one of Kentucky’s highest of the pandemic, but it was slightly better than two or three weeks ago, the governor said.

“While we hope that this is a trend and/or a plateau, we cannot sustain a plateau at this level, with the number of people it would put in the hospital,” he said. “It’s simply too many cases.”

In discussing the pressure on hospitals, he added: “If we plateau here, it means that we are not going to be able to do so many of the outpatient or other procedures that people really need for other health conditions.”

Critical staffing shortages were reported at 63 of the state’s 96 hospitals on Monday, Beshear said. On Saturday, 74 hospitals had such severe staffing situations — the worst of the pandemic.

Sherrie Mays, vice president and chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Corbin, spoke about the hardships health-care workers endure while caring for an influx of COVID-19 patients.

“We have staff members who have experienced PTSD just as a soldier would in the time of war,” she said in a video shown during Monday’s news conference. “You think when you go into nursing you’re going to take care of patients and your patients are going to get better, and you’re going to send them home. But that doesn’t always happen with COVID.”

“We have many COVID patients who pass away, and we’ve done everything that we can do,” she added.

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