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COVID-19 hospitalizations nearly double from October as staffing becomes issue

Louisville continues to see its highest hospitalization numbers since the start of the pandemic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, Louisville leaders said increases are cause for concern at local hospitals.

Dr. Sarah Moyer, Louisville Metro's chief health strategist, said the city is reporting the highest hospitalization numbers seen since the COVID-19 pandemic started earlier this year.

As of Monday, 259 people were hospitalized for coronavirus, compared to just 95 hospitalizations at the start of October. In Jefferson County, 62 people are in the ICU and 38 are on ventilators.

While increased hospitalizations and ICU visits are troubling, Moyer said more health care workers are getting exposed to COVID-19 outside of their jobs, forcing shortened staffs.

"These numbers are the highest numbers that we've seen since COVID began...and hospitals and our health care system have capacity as of right now, but they are seeing staffing challenges," Moyer said.

Moyer said that if the rapid growth continues, especially as the weather gets colder and people move inside, hospitals could see staffing challenges in just a few weeks.

Tiffany Nugent with UofL Health echoed concerns, saying that as numbers rise, their staff infections have also risen and increased hardship. 

"While we're able to take care of the patients we have, the higher the numbers go and the more nurse openings that we have, that strains the ability to do so," said Nugent, VP of Human Resources.

UofL Health currently has 450 nurse openings, and they are offering different incentives, including helping pay certifications costs for those who join.

Local officials continue to encourage people to follow Gov. Andy Beshear's recommendations for counties in the red zone, limiting in-person dining or shopping, wearing a mask and canceling any gatherings.

The city will also increase inspections on businesses in the evening and late night to ensure they are following COVID-19 regulations, with plans to create a list of businesses that have violations for public knowledge.

RELATED: Kentucky officials provide guidance on celebrating Thanksgiving safely during pandemic

RELATED: Indiana reports 63 COVID-19 deaths, 4,879 new cases

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