Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear claimed victory over Republican Matt Bevin, who was backed by US President Donald Trump
Gov. Andy Beshear during the campaign. Beshear said Thursday that hospitals across Kentucky are at risk of running out of capacity. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / John Sommers II


  • More than 460 COVID-19 patients are in ICU care across Kentucky: Beshear
  • At least 21 hospitals have reported staffing shortages
  • Beshear said hospital capacity is running out and urged residents to get vaccinated
  • The state reported a record-high increase in ICU admissions Wednesday

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that hospitals are at risk of losing capacity and staff as the state grapples with an influx of COVID-19 cases to treat.

Beshear, a Democrat, said hospitals across Kentucky are reaching a “critical point” and the Delta variant is “burning through our population,” the Associated Press reported. “Our hospital capacity, really the capacity that we have based on the staffing that we have, is reaching a critical point,” he said. He warned that if the situation doesn’t change, “we are going to be out of hospital capacity, very, very soon.”

The governor further revealed that at Elizabethtown’s Baptist Health Hardin, 91 COVID-19 patients were reported Thursday. The number is a significant increase from a daily record-high in hospitalizations reported in December. Baptist Health Hardin has 120 ICU beds, and only two are unoccupied.

On Wednesday, Beshear had said that there were 466 COVID-19 patients in ICUs across the state, marking the highest number of ICU admissions in Kentucky since the pandemic started. More than 1,650 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in the state.

Over the last 24 hours, Kentucky recorded 4,836 new confirmed coronavirus cases and nine deaths linked to the disease. A day earlier, the state reported 3,576 new infections. Most of Wednesday’s confirmed cases were among patients aged between 10 and 19, further proving warnings from health officials about young people being more vulnerable to the highly contagious Delta variant.

Aside from the surging number of ICU hospitalizations, Kentucky’s positivity rate has also increased from 11.57 percent to 12.75 percent compared to Thursday last week, NBC affiliate WLEX-TV reported. Furthermore, at least 21 Kentucky hospitals have reported critical shortages in staffing, adding pressure to the already weak ICU bed situation. It’s not just general health care staffing faced with shortages, but also emergency medical staffing, Beshear said.

The state of around 4.5 million residents has so far vaccinated 2,436,044 Kentuckians. However, there is still much concern about the surging number of cases with the spread of the Delta variant. Kentucky has reported more than 530,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 7,400 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the United States remains the hardest-hit country in the world, with nearly 37,300,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 625,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. India follows behind with more than 32,300,000 infections, and Brazil is in the third spot with more than 20 million cases.

The rapid US vaccination program has slowed particularly in politically conservative regions in the South and Midwest
The rapid US vaccination program has slowed particularly in politically conservative regions in the South and Midwest GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / SPENCER PLATT