Coronavirus latest: Kentucky to deploy 300 additional National Guard members to help hospitals

Kentucky will deploy an additional 300 National Guard members to hospitals around the state to help the facilities combat a surge in Covid-19 hospital admissions that have been fueled by the Delta variant.

Starting on Monday Kentucky will deploy the soldiers and airmen to assist 21 hospitals with non-clinical functions for a maximum of two weeks, Governor Andy Beshear said at a press conference on Thursday. That will bring the total number of Kentucky National Guards deployed in the state to 411.

The move to provide additional assistance comes as 60 of 96 hospitals across the states reported critical staffing shortages. As of Thursday there were only 90 adult ICU beds available in Kentucky, Beshear said. “Every hospital is bursting at the seams and they desperately need help.”

There are currently 2,424 people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the state, with 674 in ICU beds and 431 on ventilators, according to data from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services.

The Delta variant “is very real, it is causing devastation, it is making our hospitals overflow and it is taking the lives of our people,” Beshear said.

Kentucky has reported almost 28,000 new coronavirus cases over the past week, according to data updated on Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adjusted for population, the daily rate of 89 cases per 100,000 people a day ranks as the second-highest among US states, after South Carolina.

The governor urged Kentuckians to get vaccinated and use face coverings in an effort to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant. Nearly 2.6m adults in Kentucky have received at least one Covid shot, according to Beshear.

The state has fully vaccinated 49.6 per cent of its population, the 27th-highest level of coverage among states, but below the national average of 53.4 per cent, according to the CDC.

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