Western Kentucky Hospitals See Uptick in COVID-19 Positivity, Hospitalizations
Western Kentucky hospitals are reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases and more people who need to be hospitalized due to the virus.
The uptick comes as the coronavirus Delta variant spreads across the region and western Kentucky counties report increasing incidence rates of the virus.
From late June to early July, Murray-Calloway County Hospital had no patients hospitalized due to COVID.
But starting Fourth of July weekend, the hospital saw a small increase in cases that accelerated within the past two weeks, according to Jeffery Eye, vice president of patient care services.
“The uptick that started that July 4 weekend could be due to the vacation season that preceded it by a month,” Eye said. “Or it could just be as simple as we finally had Delta variant arrive in western Kentucky.”
The hospital had 10 COVID patients on Friday, down from 15 on Wednesday due to four discharges and a death. The positivity rate (the number of positive tests compared to all tests administered) has increased to 14.9% at the hospital.
Eye said COVID patients at Murray-Calloway County Hospital have skewed younger and healthier than in previous months. The sudden increase in positive cases and hospitalizations as the average age of people infected decreases is clinically consistent with the Delta variant outbreak, he said.
“It’s unfortunate that we went almost a month with very low, hardly any hospitalizations, hardly any cases, and to now have this increase right as we’re about to send back kids to school,” Eye said.
As of Thursday, the COVID-19 incidence rate in Calloway County is an average of 30 positive cases per 100,000 people, which is considered “critical” by the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
Baptist Health in Madisonville had 15 people hospitalized with COVID on Thursday — seven of whom were in critical care.
Kristy Quinn, marketing and public relations director for Baptist Health, said the hospital has seen a jump in cases and patients who need serious care.
“Just a few weeks ago, we were down to just one single COVID inpatient and had stayed in the single digits for some time prior to that," Quinn said.
Hopkins County, where Baptist Health is located, also has a "critical" incidence rate with an average of 47.3 positive cases per 100,000 people.
Quinn said the hospital is seeing more people who need critical care than earlier in the pandemic.
“During the earlier surges of COVID, we saw larger numbers of inpatients at times than this, but the proportion of them in critical care was lower,” Quinn said. “To have half of them in [critical care] is significantly different from what we saw previously.”
Lourdes Hospital in Paducah is also seeing an uptick in the number of younger and healthier people who need to be hospitalized due to the virus.
Jenny Franke, chief clinical officer at Lourdes Hospital, called on people to get vaccinated to slow the spread of the virus. The average number of daily COVID inpatients at the hospital has increased by 66% since last week.
“Given the increase in transmissibility of the Delta variant, we encourage all who are not vaccinated to consult with their personal health care provider or reach out to the health department or [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] website for further information and education,” Franke said.
"The vast majority of COVID positive individuals requiring hospitalization or dying from COVID-related illness are unvaccinated."
McCracken County's coronavirus incidence rate is 17.9 positive cases per 100,000 people, which state health officials consider “accelerated."
Yesterday’s statewide COVID-19 Report showed 608 people hospitalized with the virus, 189 in intensive care and 82 on ventilators. On July 1, only 201 people were hospitalized, 55 in intensive care and 25 on ventilators.
For the most recent COVID-19 daily reports and incidence rates maps, visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services website.