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'Every hospital is bursting at the seams': National Guard deployed to UofL Hospital, Baptist Health as COVID patients surge

Gov. Andy Beshear said COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU patients and ventilator usage is at an all-time high.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — As the state sees the fewest amount of available ICU beds this pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear announced more Kentucky National Guardsmen will be deployed to help health care systems — including two hospitals in Louisville.

COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU patients and ventilator usage is at an all-time high. Only 90 adult ICU beds are available statewide, Beshear said.

"Our hospital situation has never been more dire in my lifetime than it is now," Beshear said. "That means if you get COVID and need to be hospitalized, there has never been a greater likelihood that there's not a bed for you, or your family members or your friends."

Community health centers are helping take care of COVID patients in areas where hospitals do not have room. Beshear said Baptist Health Hardin has asked for more beds, mattresses and IV poles as they deal with an influx of patients.

"This shows that every hospital is bursting at the seams," Beshear said. "They desperately need help...we are a state full of more seriously sick people than ever seen."

The National Guard was already helping four hospitals in the state, but as patients increase, Beshear said an additional 310 soldiers and airmen will be deployed to assist 21 more hospitals. University of Louisville Hospital and Baptist Health Louisville will receive additional help, as well as Baptist Health Hardin and Taylor Regional Hospital.

"Our hospitals continue to face unprecedented challenges from the surge of the delta variant and we have to do whatever we can to support them," Beshear said.

National Guardsmen will help with non-clinical functions for a maximum of two weeks. Beshear said they will help with administrative support so hospital staff can focus on care.

Beshear continued to push for vaccinations and mask-wearing, pointing out that the state's youngest populations are at-risk. More than 70% of Kentuckians 18 and older have received at least one COVID shot. By age group, more than 55% of residents 30 and older have gotten their first shot. Only 44% of those 18 through 29, though, have reported receiving the first vaccination.

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