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'We ask that you stand with us': Louisville hospitals say they are at crossroads as COVID cases rise

Officials with UofL and Baptist Health encouraged people to follow recommendations from health experts to help curb the virus.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In an open letter to the community, the chief medical officers at UofL Health and Baptist Health said it is "critically important" that people take action now in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Jefferson County recorded over 3,000 new cases for the second consecutive week. Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer said that as the days get colder, the strains on the health care system will get bigger and bigger.

While Louisville hospitals are not at capacity, local health officials said it will become a problem if there is little to no compliance of Gov. Andy Beshear's recent restrictions.

"We are prepared to handle a surge of patients, but there is a limit," the letter says. "There will be a point when our hospitals will be too full to treat all of you with the virus and those with other medical needs. We are at a crossroads and desperately need your assistance with curbing the spread of the virus."

In their letter, Kenneth Anderson and Jason Smith encouraged Louisvillians to practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash their hands often. Additionally, the two said people should scale back holiday celebrations and avoid gatherings with strangers and extended family members.

The letter comes just one day after doctors working on UofL Health's Co-Immunity Project presented "very surprising" data that showed a huge increase in the percent of people who had coronavirus this November.

Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar said the data represents "only the tip of the iceberg," saying the rates of infection are much higher than before. Bhatnagar called the data "alarming," saying colder months will likely make the numbers even higher.

Anderson and Smith said every possible precaution taken could save a life, helping health care professionals who have been fighting COVID-19 for the majority of this year.

"For the last eight months, our healthcare professionals have stood united in the fight against COVID-19," the letter says. "We have rejoiced with those who recovered, and mourned with those who suffered a loss. Now, as COVID-19 cases reach record levels, we ask that you stand with us."

For more guidance from local and national health officials, click here.

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