Kentucky posts record ICU admissions among COVID patients

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s battle against COVID-19 took another grim turn Wednesday, with a record number of virus patients being treated in hospital intensive care units as the governor warned that the unvaccinated are in “more danger” of serious illness than at anytime in their lives.

The state’s hospitals are filling up as the delta variant accelerates the coronavirus outbreak, and every “staffable bed” could be in use within a week and a half, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The Democratic governor reported 3,576 new COVID-19 cases statewide, with the 10-19 age group making up the largest share of new infections. It reflects his recent warnings that the highly contagious variant is infecting higher numbers of young people.

He reported nine more virus-related deaths, including four Kentuckians who were in their 40s. The rate of Kentucky residents testing positive for the virus increased again, approaching 12.6%, he said.

The “tough news” included the state’s record-high ICU admissions among virus patients, he said.

“As of today, we have more Kentuckians in the ICU — 466 of them — battling for their lives against COVID-19 than we have ever had in the course of this pandemic,” the governor said in a social media video. “That is a record that none of us wanted to set.”

More than 1,650 virus patients were hospitalized in Kentucky, the state reported.

To those still resisting the COVID-19 shots, Beshear said: “We need you to take this seriously. Go get your `shot of hope’ right now. If you are unvaccinated, you are in more danger than you have ever been for serious illness in your lifetime, certainly in this pandemic.”

He said the vaccinated need to spread the message to their unvaccinated friends and relatives.

“It’s time to have the uncomfortable conversation,” Beshear said. “Their life could depend on it.”

More than 2.4 million Kentuckians have received at least one vaccine dose, accounting for 55% of the state’s population.

Meanwhile, another eastern Kentucky school district canceled classes this week, seeking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Knott County schools were closed Wednesday through Friday to “increase mitigation efforts” against the virus, Superintendent Brent Hoover said in a social media post. The shutdown includes “all extracurricular activities, school-sponsored events and practices,” he said.

“I want to ensure you that student and staff safety will continue to be our top priority,” he said.

Lee County public schools, also in eastern Kentucky, were closed Monday through Wednesday of this week after an outbreak among some students and school staff.

Beshear signed an executive order last week requiring mask-wearing in Kentucky’s K-12 schools. Without masks, children too young to receive the vaccine would be defenseless, he said. Children under age 12 aren’t eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. The state school board followed up with an emergency regulation requiring masking up in public schools.

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