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Beshear says children more at risk for virus; hospitals nearing capacity

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear warned Tuesday cases of COVID-19 in children are at an all-time high, hospitals are nearing capacity, and that the process is being established for some Kentuckians to receive a booster shot of the vaccine.

“More than 1,900 kids in the United States currently are in the hospital for COVID,” he said during a Capitol press conference.  “Far more than we had ever expected, more than we have ever seen, and this number continues to grow.  What this means is that with the delta variant, your kids are at a greater risk than they have been.”

State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack noted, “Small numbers don’t really make a big headline, but 17 pediatric patients in the hospital in Kentucky with COVID is an all-time high.  12 was the prior record in December.”

Stack explained that is important, “Because the only two facilities the Commonwealth of Kentucky has to take care of seriously injured or ill children or adolescents is Norton’s Children Hospital in Louisville and the University of Kentucky.  When those places are full, there is nowhere else to send them, and the other hospitals are way less prepared to be able to take care, for an extended period of time, these sick children or adolescents.”

Beshear said hospitals in the South are running out of ICU beds, and is now reaching western Kentucky.

“Jennie Stuart Medical Center in Hopkinsville says their hospitalizations due to COVID are up 500% over the last two weeks,” he stated.  “Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, where many people in western Kentucky have to go when things get serious, is full.  Baptist Health Paducah, Baptist Health Madisonville, both warning online that their cases are significantly rising, while their resources are rapidly diminishing.  Mercy Health reports a 21% positivity rate.  The Bowling Green Medical Center ICU is full, with 47 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 11 on ventilators.”

But it’s not just in the west that is affected by COVID, Beshear said.  “The delta variant continues to burn through our population here in Kentucky, with the most severe escalation in cases that we have seen to date.  We have lost 7,400 people, so me now saying we are experiencing the most rapid rise in cases right now, ought to alarm everybody.”

Third vaccine doses will soon be available in Kentucky for people with these conditions:

–Active or recent treatment for cancer/malignancy.

–Solid-organ or hematopoietic stem cell transplants.

–Moderate or severe immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).

–Advanced or untreated HIV infection.

–Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers and other immunosuppressive medications.

“This is for individuals who may not have received adequate protection from their initial primary vaccine series,” Stack said.  “People with normal immune systems are not advised to receive an additional dose at this time.  Anyone with questions about their eligibility should talk with their health care provider.”

Both continue urging Kentuckians to wear a mask when indoors away from home and to get vaccinated.

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