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9 months into pandemic, hospitals still learning about COVID-19 while coping with surge in cases

"For all the shutdown and things that we had back in March and April, the disease is much, much more prevalent now, running through the community than it was then"

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It's been nearly nine months since COVID-19 changed our lives, and in the meantime, doctors and researchers here in Louisville, around the country and around the world, are trying to figure out more about this virus. But while their knowledge continues to grow, the numbers only continue to get worse.

In Kentucky, more than 1,700 people are in the hospital right now and more than 400 people are fighting this virus in the ICU. Aside from COVID-19, Dr. Jason Smith, with University of Louisville Hospital, says people are coming into the hospitals with more complications from other issues.

"We've seen a decrease in the number of patients coming into the offices for routine care, and then we're seeing an increase in the number of patients coming into the hospital with more severe disease," Smith said.

That's just one of the changes they are seeing from 2020. 

"So, I think the biggest thing was then we just didn't know anything," Smith said.

Smith said it's beyond difficult to treat patients while also learning about the disease they are fighting.

"If you look at March and April, what we were trying to deal with, we had no strong indications about what the disease was doing because we didn't have enough testing. We didn't know how to treat the disease. We were learning and trying to figure out a way to treat it in a healthcare environment," Smith said.

And on top of that, they were fearful of having the right supplies.

"We were much more concerned about ventilators and PPE and the physical supplies needed because we didn't keep those on hand," Smith said.

Now PPE isn't a worry. But new struggles are at the forefront of their minds.

"Now, our biggest problem is really fatigue," Smith said. "We've been going full boar at this for a year without a break and there is no break on the horizon."

They now understand COVID-19 a little bit better. They've learned how to better support their patients, but while they may know more, that doesn't mean things have necessarily gotten any better.

"For all the shutdown and things that we had back in March and April, the disease is much, much more prevalent now, running through the community, than it was then," Smith said.

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