Health

Gov. Andy Beshear announced a new daily high of 37 deaths from COVID-19 in Kentucky on Wednesday.

It was the second day in a row with a record-breaking death toll. More than 70 deaths were reported on those two days.

Beshear cited a new report from the White House that said COVID-19 risk throughout the country is at a “historic high.”

“Right now is the most dangerous time we’ve had in this virus,” Beshear said. “The time we really need to be coming together and doing the right things is right now, because the ramifications if we don’t are the most severe of any time in the virus.”

There were fewer than 25,000 new cases a day, nationally, between Memorial Day and the summer surge that began in July. That figure has since jumped to more than 180,000.

Kentucky is also experiencing a spike. Beshear announced 3,601 new cases Wednesday, the sixth-highest total of the pandemic. Case totals have repeatedly reached record-breaking levels in the state over the past several weeks.

“We have so many cases and so much data coming in right now that even the databases – federal and the state – are struggling to keep up,” Beshear said.

High infection rates have led to rises in hospitalizations. Beshear said King’s Daughter, a hospital in Ashland, is using a lobby as an overflow area for COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached a new high at Norton Healthcare facilities in the Louisville area, too. Charlotte Ipsan, the chief administrative officer at Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital, said 221 patients are currently in the system’s hospitals for COVID-19. 

“Prior to this surge that we’ve seen now, the highest number was around 202, and that was back in the summer,” Ipsan said in a separate briefing Wednesday.

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said COVID-19 patients in the hospital and in the ICU have tripled since the beginning of September.

“The nation is facing an alarming escalation in cases,” Stack said. He said the upcoming holidays could be major spreading events. 

“It could place us in a very difficult situation as we go forward for large numbers of cases, large hospital needs and overwhelming the hospital system,” Stack said.

More than 1,760 Kentuckians are currently in the hospital due to COVID-19, 427 are in the ICU and 234 are on ventilators.

John Boyle is WFPL news editor. Previously, he was a reporter and editor at focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.