FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear announced that more Kentucky National Guard troops as well as AmeriCorps members are being sent to hospitals across the state that are overrun with cases of COVID-19.
During a Thursday afternoon press conference, the governor said that although we may be at yet another plateau in the pandemic, many hospitals across the state are still suffering from a lack of healthcare workers and have had to convert operating rooms to becoming part of intensive care units, due to the crush of COVID patients.
“Sixty-four of 96 are still reporting critical staffing shortages,” he said. “We have 130 ICU beds available as of today. Remember, that has always floated. We got down to 80 at one point and have never been above 130 over the past few weeks. That shows you how quickly things can change.”
While Beshear earlier sent just over 400 Kentucky National Guard troops to help hospitals with non-medical functions, the largest deployment of Guard members for health care in the state’s history, he announced Thursday that more are on the way.
“We have now deployed 505 Guard members to 29 hospitals throughout Kentucky,” Beshear said. “That’s about another 100 Guard members, and another four hospitals where they will provide assistance. We continue to hear from our hospitals how much these incredible professionals have helped. They do things like logistics, administrative support, screening, cleaning equipment, and assisting with other needs, so hospital staff can be 100% focused on patients.”
He also announced that AmeriCorps members have already been sent to two hospitals to perform similar duties as the National Guard, with more sent to a third hospital next month.
“We are the first to do this,” the governor said. “The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps has told us and confirmed that we are the very first to help hospitals for surge capacity. It’s been so influential that the federal leaders are flying to other states to replicate what we have started here in Kentucky.”
As for the possibility of a new, higher plateau of COVID cases, Beshear said, “It’s hard to classify it as good news, but it could be worse. The exponential increase we were on in hospitalizations already had us bursting at the seams, if not breaking in some places. But if it had continued at the rate it was, every single hospital would be overrun, we would be turning people away from ICUs, you would see people dying in the hallways. We do not appear to be on that trajectory anymore, but we’re still in a very dangerous situation.”
He again urged Kentuckians to mask up when going indoors while away from home and to get vaccinated.