Coronavirus

St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Ky., is out of ICU beds. 

“We are currently in the process of opening a surge intensive care unit because our usual intensive care unit is full,” said Dr. William Melahn, chief medical officer at St. Claire. 

Their ICU is full of people with COVID-19.

Thursday’s Team Kentucky press conference focused mainly on the stress health care workers and facilities are experiencing as coronavirus cases continue to rise due to the delta variant. 

With hospital units having to be converted to care for those with COVID-19, space for other patients is also running out. 

“It’s impacting our ability to care for all patients,” said Cindy Lucchese, chief nurse executive at University of Louisville Physicians. “The citizens of Kentucky depend on us to be able to handle emergencies.”  

The virus is no longer just affecting older populations.

“What I’m seeing currently is predominantly people — 40s, 50s and 60s — that are very, very critically ill,” said Dr. Joshua Bryant with King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Ky. 

He said all the people in the COVID-19 ICU are unvaccinated and that there has been an increase in “overall death in patients of a younger age.”

People who are unvaccinated remain the most vulnerable to contracting the virus, developing severe symptoms, being hospitalized and dying. 

This means there has been an uptick in children being hospitalized. 

COVID-19 vaccines are not approved for children under 12. That has left them more vulnerable to catching the virus.

This prompted Governor Andy Beshear on Tuesday to mandate masks for K-12 schools along with pre-K facilities. In response, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron quickly filed suit against Beshear.

However, Beshear’s mandate became obsolete today when the Kentucky Board of Education instituted its own mandate lasting 270 days. 

Medical professionals are urging people to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, and to get vaccinated.

The positivity rate in the state is over 11%. Numbers for people in the ICU and on ventilators have also increased. On Wednesday, Kentucky reported 2,961 new cases, with 363 COVID patients in the ICU and 169 on ventilators, along with 14 new deaths.

The numbers are the highest they have been in months. 

Information on coronavirus in the commonwealth can be found on the Team Kentucky COVID-19 resources page.

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for WFPL.