Virus

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky's top public health official expressed concerns Wednesday about rising hospitalizations for people suffering from COVID-19 as the state deals with escalating virus cases.

The state reported 1,635 new coronavirus cases and 11 more deaths, Gov. Andy Beshear said. Total statewide cases surpassed 113,000 since the start of the pandemic, and the virus-related death toll reached at least 1,514.

The Democratic governor also said he's renewing his statewide mandate that most people wear masks in public as a way to help contain the virus's spread. The renewal is for another 30 days.

Hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks as virus cases spiked. More than 1,060 people are in Kentucky hospitals because of the virus, including 286 in intensive care, Beshear said.

In late September, slightly more than 500 people were hospitalized in Kentucky due to the virus, including about 100 in intensive care, said Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner.

“The more people who are getting sick, the more quickly those numbers can climb," he said at a news conference. “And so this is a concern.”

One worry is that the spreading virus could infect more health care workers, Stack said.

“One of the concerns we have related to hospitals is not that we will first run out of bed space, but that we may not have enough health care workers to staff all those beds,” he said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.

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