If Coronavirus Surges, Are There Enough Beds and Ventilators?

STATEWIDE — Stories of hospital bed and ventilator shortages have filled the national news, but in Kentucky — if things stay the way they are— the Bluegrass State appears to be in good shape. 

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation predict Kentucky will hit the peak number of cases on April 21. Governor Andy Beshear’s team predicts the peak will be in early May. 

If the IHME data is correct — Kentucky will need 2,593 hospital beds during the peak time. The governor’s office says Kentucky actually has 18,500 beds currently available with more beds coming. 

When it comes to ICU beds, IHME data says Kentucky will need 503 beds once we hit our peak, Beshear’s office reports 1,300 ICU beds are available in Kentucky, meaning Kentucky is in good shape. 

The state will also have enough ventilators if the data from IHME is correct, they estimated Kentucky will need 432 ventilators on hand to deal with the demand of patients. Kentucky hospitals currently have 1,352 ventilators on hand—meaning once again Kentucky will not be facing a shortage. 

Beshear says hospitals could be able to use the same ventilator for different patients. 

“Just because we have about 1,300 ventilators doesn’t mean we don’t have the capacity to serve more people and we are not near that capacity,” he said on Saturday. “We have more ventilators than people that have tested positive for the coronavirus right now” 

IHME estimates by August 4, 2020, 1,750 Kentuckians will have died as a result of the virus. 

This data is based on current projections if social distancing guidelines are continued to be followed. While this is optimistic news, a different model from ProPublica using a moderate scenario, where 40 percent of the population is infected shows Louisville and Lexington will face a shortage of hospital beds. 

Under this model, it’s estimated Lexington could see more than 99,000 cases, with 3,330 hospital beds being needed which is 160 percent of the available beds. 

In Louisville, the model estimates 116,000 people will become infected with the virus requiring 3,860 beds, more than two times the amount of available beds that ProPublica estimates the city has now. 

The model also found the ICU’s in both Louisville and Lexington could also be hard hit, they estimate Louisville will need five times the amount of beds currently available while Lexington will need four times the amount of available beds.