Younger Kentuckians are dying more frequently from COVID-19 as the state’s supply of ICU beds dipped below 100 for only the third time since the coronavirus pandemic began, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.
The percentage of Kentuckians dying from COVID-19 who are 30 to 49 years old has increased fivefold since May, with that age group accounting for 11 percent of deaths since June, Beshear said.
The Democratic governor reported that Kentucky only has 93 adult ICU beds available and 66 of the 96 acute care hospitals in the state have critical staffing shortages.
“The situation continues to be dire and we need for people to continue to do their very best to protect themselves and their families,” said Beshear, adding that the best protective measures are getting vaccinated and wearing masks, even at outdoor events with large crowds, such as football games.
More than 90 percent of the people who are hospitalized because of COVID-19 have not been vaccinated, he said.
Beshear noted that the delta variant is hitting young people hard. Meanwhile, the percentage of COVID deaths who are 70+ have dropped from 74 percent through May 2021 to 48 percent since June, he said. The vaccination rate among Kentuckians 65+ is 91%, compared to 50% for those 18 to 29 years old.
“For younger people, this is only going to get worse,” said Beshear, who said the state will report more than 60 new deaths Thursday. More than 8,200 Kentuckians have died from the virus
Twenty-five children are now in Kentucky hospitals with COVID-19, he said, “some of the highest that we have ever seen.”
Beshear also warned of expected shortages of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 patients in coming weeks.
Beshear showed videos of health care staffers at Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana and Kings Daughters Medical Hospital in Ashland, who talked about their struggles.
The key, said the governor, is vaccination. To date, about 2.6 million or 59 percent of Kentuckians have been vaccinated, he said.
“The least vaccinated age groups are getting COVID the most,” said Beshear.