Gov. Beshear Urges KY Residents To Get Vaccinated As COVID Cases, Hospitalizations Rise

In other news, the governor rescinded his school mask mandate after a federal judge ruled it violated state law.

(Frankfort, Ky.) – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says record-breaking COVID-19 hospitalizations are “avoidable”.

The governor announced 4,849 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. Of those cases, approximately 2,074 Kentuckians have been hospitalized with the virus – the most the state has reported since the pandemic began.

The state’s positivity rate reached an all-time high of 13.16 percent as of Wednesday. Kentucky also reported 65 new virus-related deaths with 57 of the deaths occurring in August.

“Folks, all of this is avoidable. Please, let’s come together to do the right thing,” said Beshear. “In March of 2020, the people of the commonwealth came together to protect the lives of others. As we face the most dangerous surge we’ve seen, I’m calling on Kentuckians to join together again. If we’re going to get through this together, we’re going to have to work together.”

In the past, Governor Beshear has used a statewide mask mandate to help limit the spread of COVID-19. He no longer has the power to do so following a court ruling this week. A federal judge ruled that Beshear's school mask mandate violated state law. Any decisions about statewide mandates will now have to be passed by the General Assembly. 

Still, the governor is urging all eligible Kentuckians to get the COVID-19 vaccine considering the surge in hospitalizations. 

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Health, says from March 1 to Aug. 18, 2021, 85.3 percent of COVID-19 cases, 90.3 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 87.4 percent of COVID-19 deaths were among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Kentuckians.

Dr. Stack added that hospitals are facing a variety of challenges caring for patients right now, including: inability to transfer pediatric patients to children’s hospitals due to lack of available beds; health care staffing shortages; inability to transfer patients to higher levels of care due to lack of available beds at other hospitals; needing to use crisis standards of care, where each nurse and/or nursing assistant must care for more patients than they normally would; in some cases, needing to cancel elective or non-emergency procedures in order to free up staff and resources; ongoing EMS staffing shortages amid increased requests for transfers; and individuals coming to emergency departments solely for COVID-19 testing.

Dennis Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Baptist Health Hardin offered the following on the COVID-19 vaccine:

“We know that while this vaccine is not perfect, it does four things that we’ve witnessed right here at our hospital: It reduces severity of illness, reduces hospitalizations, reduces ICU admissions and most important, reduces deaths. We’re pleading with every Kentuckian to please get vaccinated, wear a mask and practice good hand hygiene and social distancing. Together we can wipe out this pandemic.”

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