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Louisville hospitals feel strain as COVID admissions increase

Louisville's Department of Public Health and Wellness reported a two to three times increase in cases and contacts reported within day cares in the past two weeks.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville is back in the COVID red zone, reporting the highest number of cases and hospitalizations since mid-February when vaccines were limited.

Connie Mendel, the assistant director for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, said the county reported 1,916 cases and 10 deaths last week. On July 10, 11 COVID patients were in the ICU. Today, there are 68.

"We added 1,916 cases last week. That is the highest one-week gain since February," said Mendel. 

Dr. Jon Klein with UofL's School of Medicine also noted "disturbing" data seen throughout the country: increased pediatric COVID admissions.

"Way back in May of 2020 there was an opinion that was widely held that children somehow avoided this virus," Klein said. "Any maybe with that alpha virus or the original virus they did, but now with delta they absolutely do not. We are seeing across this country very, very sick children."

Mendel said the department has reported a two to three times increase in cases and contacts reported within Louisville day cares over the past two weeks. The cases are not spread throughout all day cares, but instead are reported in hotspots and clusters.

"The highest age group reporting cases is that 20-44, with that 0-19 the second-highest group," Mendel said.

As children head back to school, pediatric infectious disease physician Dr. Kristina Bryant with Norton Children's Hospital said they are seeing more children being hospitalized with COVID.

"People say, 'Do kids get COVID?' Yes, they get COVID," Bryant said. "Can they get sick? Yes, they can get sick."

Norton Children's is reporting 10 pediatric COVID patients, four of whom are in the ICU, and two are on ventilators.

"The key metric is 10 kids in the hospital," Bryant said. "On any given day in June, we didn't have any."

Bryant said the best protection for children who are unable to be vaccinated just yet, is for parents and older siblings to be vaccinated.

Mayor Greg Fischer said it "bugs" him to see children less protected from COVID because the adults in their lives have yet to get the vaccine.

"That is not fair to the kids," Fischer said. "They're depending on us to get vaccinated."

While more vaccinated people are testing positive, Klein said the vast majority of breakthrough cases have very mild symptoms, with few developing more serious symptoms.

"[Vaccines] are still remarkably protective against serious illness and death," Klein said. "That's not to say there won't be serious illness and death in vaccinated people, but it's going to be rare and the vaccines are absolutely essential if we want to get our lives back."

For people hesitant about getting the vaccine before it is FDA approved, Klein said approval is expected around Labor Day weekend. He also said data shows immunity given by the vaccine is more protective than immunity from previous infection.

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