Ky. hospital capacity not largely impacted by post-holiday COVID surge

Ky. hospital capacity not largely impacted by post-holiday COVID surge
In a hospital capacity chart that divides the state into 10 regions, only 3 regions are in the “red” with ICU capacity above 80%.
In a hospital capacity chart that divides the state into 10 regions, only 3 regions are in the “red” with ICU capacity above 80%. (Source: Office of Gov. Andy Beshear)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Following a post-holiday COVID surge in Kentucky, local hospitals have not yet seen a spike in inpatient admissions from the virus, Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed Monday.

Last week, Kentucky saw its highest weekly case count since the start of the pandemic with more than 26,000 cases reported. During his daily briefing, Beshear connected that increase in cases to holiday gatherings.

“The bump we’re seeing is from holiday gatherings and not just the continuation of that third wave,” he said. “It’s fragile, every time we let our guards down COVID finds a way, we increase cases and people die.”

Beshear said the state’s positivity rate of 12.35%, the second-highest since March, was also a big concern.

“This ought to be another wakeup call, it ought to be a bright red warning light,” he said.

But even as more people testing positive, Beshear explained Monday most local hospitals still have available beds. In a hospital capacity chart that divides the state into 10 regions, only 3 regions are in the “red” with ICU capacity above 80%.

“It’s concerning where some of these numbers are but we still have room especially if we use ICU beds in other regions,” he said.

Dr. James Frazier with Norton Healthcare says he’s seen COVID hospitalizations at Norton steadily decrease from 217 patients on Dec. 1, 2020 to 155 patients on Jan. 11.

“Fortunately we are not seeing the same spike in hospitalizations that we did at the end of last year after Halloween, we are also fortunate that we didn’t see a big spike after Thanksgiving,” Frazier said. “I know the positivity rate is still continuing to rise, I know the number of cases we’re seeing across the community is continuing to rise but as far as translating into inpatients at Norton Healthcare, fortunately, we’ve been flat or maybe even a little bit down from where we were last year.”

But with hospital admissions a lagging indicator of an increased case count, Beshear on Monday warned of what could come.

“We are not at capacity in our healthcare system though again that can happen pretty quickly,” he said.

Frazier said preparations are in place at Norton to accept more COVID inpatients.

“And we monitor these numbers on a daily basis, we look at our OR schedule, we look at our ICU, we look at the number of ventilators that we have,” he said. “So we’re always trying to stay on top of our volumes and what can come in, make sure that we have plenty of capacity.”

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