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As Louisville Approaches Highest COVID Numbers, Hospitals Feel Strain

Coronavirus cells
Argonne National Laboratory
Coronavirus cells

Louisville has already seen some of its worst COVID-19 numbers since March. Now the city is approaching case rates that match the highest point of the pandemic. 

“Our positivity rate, the highest one we had, was January 25, which was a positivity rate of 14.39%. Currently, we’re at 13.11%, so we’re nearing the worst numbers that we saw earlier in the year,” said Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, associate medical director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness. 

The city’s hospitals are nearing the COVID-19 patient load they saw last winter. 

“We’re near our peak. When we were back in December, we had about 221 patients in the hospital. We’re at 197 today,” Dr. Steve Hester, chief medical officer at Norton Healthcare, said.

Across the Baptist Health hospital network, the number of COVID-19 patients went from around 100 a month ago, to now being more than 400.

Louisville hospitals are not just taking on patients from the city, they are also taking on patients from hospitals across the state

“At one point we had 46 requests for transfers into the system from all over the state for people looking for beds,” said Dr. Jason Smith, chief medical officer at University of Louisville Health. 

As the strain on health care workers continues to intensify, officials ask people to show patience with people working at hospitals and emergency rooms. 

“The biggest thing right now is that the health care industry is tired,” said Smith, “Now, we’re back to worrying about can we take this virus back home to our own families.”

Medical leaders are also urging people to get vaccinated. 

The Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval earlier this week; health officials hope this will relieve some people’s vaccine hesitancy.

Mayor Greg Fischer said he will wait to see what happens with vaccine numbers in the coming weeks before deciding to institute a vaccine mandate for city workers. 

Louisville’s COVID-19 dashboardprovides updates on cases and vaccination numbers. Resources about testing and vaccinations can be found on the Louisville COVID-19 Resource Center page.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.