BESHEAR: highest week of COVID cases by nearly 22,000
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Governor Andy Beshear announced during his weekly briefing omicron cases and hospitalizations continue to surge, breaking records.
“Omicron continues to burn through the commonwealth, growing at levels we have never seen before,” Beshear said.
COVID cases have nearly doubled, making last week the highest seen so far. Beshear firmly stated that omicron has proved it is significantly more contagious than the delta variant, and worries about the surge in hospitalizations.
He explained that omicron is not equivalent to the common cold, and reviewed graphic data that showed a vertical spike in cases and hospitalizations like never before.
“If we don’t take this seriously, people die,” Beshear said. “And not just people who contract COVID. People who have heart attacks, people who have strokes, people who are in car accidents because beds are taken up primarily by unvaccinated Kentuckians, leaving no room for those that need other help.”
On Saturday, there were 6,750 COVID cases and 32 new deaths including a 32-year-old woman from Bullitt County. On Sunday, 5,235 COVID cases were confirmed and 21 new deaths including a 47-year-old man from Fayette County. Finally on Monday, 5,049 COVID cases were and 14 new deaths were confirmed, including a 21-year-old man from Johnson County and a 34-year-old-man from Jefferson County.
The positivity rate on Monday is 26.33 percent, which means more than one in four people that get tested are testing positive, Beshear explained.
Last week, there were 52,603 COVID cases, breaking the previous record of 30,680.
Beshear fears Kentucky is nowhere near the overall incident rate compared to areas like New York which means there is a possibility the numbers present could double what they are now.
“This is one of the most contagious viruses we’ve seen in the last 100 years,” Beshear said. “There’s nothing other than maybe measles that rival it.”
Beshear warns hospitals all over are being impacted and are filling up significantly. Regarding hospital capacity, Beshear said of the ten regions his team tracks, nine of those are in the red and are facing hospitalizations and ICU issues.
Over the last seven days, hospitalizations increased 17 percent.
“Were down to 134 adult ICU beds available,” Beshear said. “33 of 96 hospitals reported critical staffing shortages. We have 23 pediatric patients, kids, in the hospital, four in pediatric ICUs, and remember, we only have two pediatric ICU units and we have three kids on ventilators here in Kentucky.”
As Kentucky has yet to reach its peak and continues escalating in COVID cases, Beshear announced his recent decision to utilize the National Guard.
“Because of this rapid escalation in hospitalizations, I have authorized and mobilized the national guards to assist in our hospitals,” he said. “The plan right now is between national guard we already have out there and ones we are going to be sending to other hospitals, we’ll have about 445 active guardsmen and women assisting through hospitals and at the moment, through food banks. They’ll be assisting all over the commonwealth with the exception of hospitals that didn’t need them yet, or have other plans. The way we prevent this happening from our hospitals being overwhelmed, are vaccinations and boosters. It is an incredibly clear pattern, more so I believe with omicron than anything before it, that the level of your vaccination correlates almost directly with how hard this thing impacts you.”
For those that are vaccinated and boosted, the omicron variant is reported to feel more so like a cold, with some people saying they had no symptoms at all. Individuals who are vaccinated and not boosted, Beshear said those people likely have waning immunity, and may feel symptoms present from the original COVID variant.
“If you are unvaccinated, for many people this is hitting you like a freight train,” he said. “And the vast majority of those ending up in the hospital are unvaccinated, but you know what, that impacts every body else too.”
Those who choose not to get vaccinated and contract COVID pose a risk to their friends, families, and healthcare workers. When healthcare workers are affected, the risk of of staffing shortages and thus hospital capacity also increases.
Beshear continues to urge everyone to get vaccinated and or boosted and explains that as hospitalizations rise with COVID patients, those with non-COVID ailments cannot get the treatment they need.
However, Beshear does report vaccinations continue steady throughout the commonwealth.
“If there’s a bright spot, it’s that we continue to see steady vaccinations,” he said. “Over the weekend, 11,672 Kentuckians decided to get their first shot of hope.”
In addition, 7,122 Kentuckians received their second vaccine dose and 23,283 got their booster shot over weekend. The number of Kentuckians who are now fully vaccinated and boosted have rose to 21 percent.
“If you’ve been waiting, if there is some excuse, please go out and get boosted immediately,” Beshear urged. “I cant tell you the number of people that I’ve talked to that ultimately... just put off getting their booster and that they wish that they hadn’t.”
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