State among worst in nation for new cases; Guard arriving at 20 more hospitals

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — The number of people in the hospital because of COVID is down slightly Monday but that’s not a reason to believe the surge in cases in leveling off, Gov. Andy Beshear warned during a briefing Monday.

That’s especially true since Kentucky now ranks among the worsts in the country for the spread.

Beshear said the state currently ranks third in the nation for the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases per capita, with a seven-day average of approximately 90 new cases reported per 100,000 people.

“I am asking you to break the Thanksgiving dinner rule and have a tough conversation with those you love and care about who are hesitant to get the vaccine,” he said during his briefing. “It won’t be easy. But they are more likely to listen to a friend or family member, and that one conversation could save their life.”

The governor highlighted a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study that found people who were not fully vaccinated this spring and summer were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19, than those who were fully vaccinated.

“Today, I have 38 COVID patients on my unit. That is every room we could possibly open and every patient we could possibly take care of,” said Laura Gevedon, RN, shift supervisor for the Pikeville Medical Center COVID unit. “Every patient that we have had say that they regret not getting their COVID-19 vaccine. They wish that they had never listened to anyone who said not to get it. They regret waiting. Get the vaccine and wear a mask.”

She added: “Last week, a man had a BiPAP on and was maxed out on his oxygen, but he was dropping. He told me to take it off and let him die. I told him that he had more fight and we weren’t going to do it. I called his wife and she talked to him convinced him to give it a little while longer. His BiPAP was so loud that his wife couldn’t hear what he was saying, so I asked him what he wanted me to tell her. He wanted me to tell her that he loved her and that he would be on the ventilator by that evening. Two hours later, he was unresponsive so we put him on a ventilator. The next day he passed away. That is my every day.”

In its daily update, the state reported 2,426 new COVID cases with 665 of those in people 18 and under. The state now has listed 630,299 since the outbreak began.

The state also confirmed 29 more COVID related deaths, raising the total lost to COVID-related causes to 8,071.

The positivity rate dropped to 13.7% from 14% Friday, 14.04% Thursday and 14.16% Wednesday.
Monday’s reported listed 2,446 people in the hospital, down from 2,541 Friday and 2,479 Thursday but still ahead of the 2,424 last Wednesday and 2,356 last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, 646 people are in an ICU unit, the lowest level in almost a week.
And the number of people on ventilators fell to 411, the lowest since last Monday.
But the numbers were worse over the weekend.

Number of people who have received at least one vaccine dose in Kentucky: 2,618,081
Number of people who received at least one vaccine dose since Friday: 26,219

Sept. 11, Cases: 4,470
Sept. 11, Deaths: 18
Sept. 12, Cases: 3,111
Sept. 12, Deaths: 21

The governor said after receiving new census data, the state now will be able to report percentages of Kentuckians 12 and older and ages 12 to 17 who have been vaccinated; demographic information for more than 170,000 additional vaccinated Kentuckians; and the number of Kentuckians vaccinated, rather than the number of people vaccinated in Kentucky.

The governor said he could now report that 59% of all Kentuckians, including those that are too young to be eligible, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose; 69% of Kentuckians 12 or older, or 69% of all eligible Kentuckians, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose; and 71% of Kentucky adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, updated Kentuckians on the use and availability of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 patients.

During the week ending Sept. 7, 2021, 3,642 treatment courses of monoclonal antibodies were used in Kentucky. As of Sept. 7, Kentucky hospitals have 9,363 monoclonal antibody treatment courses on hand.

Monoclonal antibody treatments are available at 139 locations across Kentucky.

“Monoclonal antibody administration in Kentucky has expanded dramatically,” said Dr. Stack. “In the last eight weeks, we have gone from about 204 monoclonal doses given in the beginning of July all the way up to 3,642 doses given through last Wednesday. That is an 18-fold increase in just eight weeks.”

Dr. Stack explained that monoclonal antibodies are synthetic, laboratory-created antibodies.

They give patients a temporary immune boost, ideally helping people who are already sick have a milder disease. They do not teach a patient’s body how to create its own antibodies.

“Monoclonal antibodies are an important tool, but we have another alternative, vaccinations. Vaccines prime your immune system to create natural antibodies that your own body will produce to create a natural immune response that then can protect you for at least eight months or more,” said Dr. Stack. “It’s a lot easier to get vaccinated than to get monoclonal antibodies.”

Dr. Stack also updated Kentuckians on the state’s school testing program, and said parents and school leaders can find more information here:

“We stood up, using federal funds, a testing program where every single county in the commonwealth should have access to an approved testing vendor,” said Dr. Stack. “There are probably around 2,000 schools within the commonwealth. There’s no way that is going to work more effectively than having the local school and local district involved to refine and tailor the program to them. We’re going to put together the guidance we have to give in one packet all information that schools will need to know for how to do layered mitigation, how to do testing as a tool to help keep people safe from COVID, to keep sick people out of the school setting and to give other guidance for how to be isolated or quarantine.”

Beshear said the Kentucky National Guard is handling COVID-19 testing at some of the state’s most overwhelmed hospitals to assist with staff shortages.

Last week, he announced that along with the four hospitals that already have National Guard teams on the ground at their facilities, 21 more hospitals will receive assistance from an additional 310 soldiers and airmen.

They will assist with non-clinical functions within the hospitals for a maximum of two weeks. Ten to 30 members will be deployed to each facility in the next week. They are assisting with logistical and administrative support to allow hospital staff to focus on patients.

“There will now be 411 Kentucky National Guard members in 25 Kentucky hospitals helping to expand their capacity and ability to respond to this dangerous surge,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our Guard is stepping up yet again to help the commonwealth and our people. Thank you to you, your families, your employers and your community for you continued sacrifice and service.”

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