Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital

A Somerset-based hospital is one of many across Kentucky, and nation, struggling with the spike in COVID-19 patients, while trying to recruit more staff. 

Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital currently has 26 patients in two COVID-19 units. 

We are aware of a few who were vaccinated who have been admitted. But there’s no question that the overwhelming majority of patients admitted, at least at our hospital, are unvaccinated," said hospital CEO Robert Parker.

He said he wants the communities his hospital serves to understand the severity of the situation faced by his staff. 

“The way I would describe it is, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital is operating at the very edge of our capacity, both in terms of staff and bed capacity," said Parker. "However, we’re able to function properly and take care of our patients and we want patients to still come into the facility if they need care. It is important, though, for our community to know that we are operating at that edge of capacity.”


Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and leaders of the Republican-led legislature are negotiating exactly how to dissolve a court ruling that blocked new laws limiting the governor’s powers.

The development means Kentucky’s state of emergency related to the coronavirus will remain in effect until Beshear and Republican lawmakers tell Franklin Circuit Court how they’d like to move forward.

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled last weekend that the lower court incorrectly blocked the laws earlier this year, which include a measure restricting Beshear’s emergency orders to 30 days unless renewed by the legislature. The high court ordered Franklin Circuit Court to dissolve its injunction.

But during a status conference on Thursday, lawyers for Beshear and GOP Senate President Robert Stivers asked for 10 days to come up with an agreed plan before the court vacates the ruling.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear is considering calling a special legislative session after the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of new laws limiting his emergency powers last weekend.

A lower court had blocked those laws from going into effect earlier this year, including a measure restricting Beshear’s emergency orders to 30 days unless renewed by the legislature.

But once Franklin Circuit Court lifts its block on the new laws, most of Beshear’s orders will expire, including the official state of emergency declared by the governor in March 2020. It’s unclear when Franklin Circuit will do that, but a hearing on the case is scheduled for Thursday morning.

That has Beshear and some lawmakers worried Kentucky will lose millions of dollars in federal funding and other resources tied to the emergency declaration.

Corinne Boyer | Ohio Valley ReSource

On an overcast day in Louisville, two men dressed in scrubs get in a truck and leave the Jefferson County Health Department. A few minutes later, they arrive at an apartment complex.

“We’re going to be in and out today,” Capt. Michael Hart with the Kentucky National Guard said as he stood in the apartment’s kitchen.

It’s the home of Tony Leslie, who answered Hart’s questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine. Leslie is one of the first patients on a list of about 10 people the Kentucky National Guardsmen will vaccinate today.

Leslie’s 15 year-old dog Chico barks at the small crowd gathered in the kitchen. Leslie asks to get his second shot in his left arm.

LRC Public Information

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers announced a plan to incentivize the COVID-19 vaccine in his home of Clay County.

About 30 local leaders including ministers, judges, teachers and a cheerleading coach provided pro-vaccine testimonials. The group will promote the vaccine via flyers and digital campaigns.

In addition, 13 vaccine clinics will be set up in the area offering prizes and raffle entry in exchange for getting the vaccine. 

Schools in Clay County will be able to compete with each other to win $6,000 in new athletic equipment.

Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, stressed throughout the press conference that this wasn’t a mandate. He said that he does not believe that blanket mandates work.

Rhonda J. Miller

As schools struggle to continue in-person learning as COVID-19 surges across the nation, one school district in southern Kentucky is reporting a decrease in the number of students and staff in quarantine two weeks after a mask mandate went into effect.

Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton said in a news conference Tuesday that the numbers are down substantially from the 1,800 students in quarantine last week.

“We’re at 834 students that are quarantined due to a potential contact exposure at school," Clayton said. "We do not have any staff that are quarantined due to a school contact. However, we have about 100 across the district that are required to quarantine."

Gov. Beshear: Kentucky Reaches COVID-19 Record-Highs

Aug 24, 2021
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s health care facilities face staff and space shortages as the delta variant causes COVID-19 cases to skyrocket. 

On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear reported the pandemic’s highest number of hospitalized patients, statewide – 1,893. The state also reached record high numbers for residents in intensive care units, 529, and hooked up to ventilators, 301.

“Here we are, at a time when we have vaccines, when we know that masks work, with our third highest week of cases ever, and the highest positivity,” Beshear said. “COVID is burning through our population here in Kentucky.”

Steve Haines is the nursing director of critical care services at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville. He described the latest wave of the pandemic as horrific.

The Department of Education is preparing its Office of Civil Rights to investigate schools that have blocked school mask mandates and other efforts to try to keep students and educators safe from COVID-19.

Republican-led states like Florida and Texas have imposed rules that say school districts can't impose mask mandates; the Department of Education argues that this could lead to discrimination against some students who cannot attend school because it becomes unsafe for their health.

Blake Farmer | WPLN

The pandemic has never been so hard on Tennessee children as it has been the last few weeks. Cases surpassed the previous high set in the winter surge, and hospitals are feeling the pinch.

The 7-day average for school-age is now close to 1,400 new cases a day, with nearly 16,000 new infections statewide in 5-18 year-olds over the last two weeks, according to state data.

At this point, nearly a third of all new cases are among Tennessee kids 18 and younger — also a record for the pandemic.

Pediatric hospitalizations still represent a tiny fraction of the overall totals, which are climbing every day. But already children’s hospitals, which have less flexibility than adult hospitals, are having to make space for COVID patients.

Updated August 23, 2021 at 12:52 PM ET

The Food and Drug Administration has formally approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The widely anticipated decision replaces the emergency use authorization granted by the agency last December.

The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be subject to a full review by the U.S. regulator and to get an approval that puts the vaccine on par with other marketed vaccines.

Stephanie Wolf

The Kentucky Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that a lower court shouldn’t have blocked new laws that limit Gov. Andy Beshear’s emergency powers during the pandemic. The order is not an overall ruling on their constitutionality, though.

Beshear filed a lawsuit in February after the state legislature passed several measures limiting his emergency powers, including a bill restricting the governor’s emergency orders to 30 days unless renewed by the legislature, and one allowing businesses and schools to ignore state emergency regulations as long as they follow CDC guidelines.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments over the case earlier this summer.

The decision means Beshear’s challenge to those laws will go back to Franklin Circuit Court, with an order for the lower court to no longer block the laws from going into effect. The court had put a temporary injunction on the laws.

Sumner County Schools/via Facebook

Tennessee may risk federal civil rights inquiries if the state continues on its current track, allowing parents to opt out of school mask mandates for no reason at all. The U.S. Department of Education has put eight states on notice that their current guidelines conflict with federal policy meant to offer a safe, in-person learning environment.

In a memo, Secretary Miguel Cardona says his department may “initiate a directed investigation if facts indicate a potential violation of the rights of students as a result of state policies and actions.” He says the department will also respond to complaints from parents of students “who may experience discrimination as a result of states not allowing local school districts to reduce virus transmission risk through masking requirements and other mitigation measures.”

LRC Public Information

Former Democratic state Rep. Brent Yonts of Greenville died Friday morning after a battle with COVID-19.

Known for his colorful suits and blazers, Yonts was an attorney who represented House District 15, including Muhlenberg County and part of Hopkins County from 1997 to 2016.

Yonts had been in critical condition and in the ICU for two weeks and had recently been placed on a ventilator, according to a Facebook post from his daughter Ellen Yonts Suetholz.

“It has taken a toll on him and the hospital did everything possible to prevent this from happening but as he remains critical, it was the only option,” she wrote.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky nursing home administrators are worried that a new federal mandate for their employees to get vaccinated will lead to a worker shortage.

President Joe Biden announced plans on Wednesday to withhold Medicaid and Medicare funding from nursing homes that don’t require their employees to get the shot.

Betsy Johnson, president of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, said nursing home industry leaders strongly support their workers getting vaccinated, but many employees don’t want to.

“Our health care workers are human beings too. They are influenced by things they see on social media, family members, misinformation, political debates about COVID-19,” Johnson said.

Facebook/Warren County Public Schools

A federal judge temporarily blocked Gov. Andy Beshear’s mask mandate for K-12 schools Thursday, saying the executive order violates laws passed by the General Assembly this spring that limited the governor’s emergency powers. 

“The Executive Branch cannot simply ignore laws passed by the duly-elected representatives of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Therein lies tyranny,” Judge William Bertelsman wrote in his opinion.

The ruling means private schools will not have to require masks. However, a separate mask mandate from the Kentucky Department of Education means masks are still required in public schools.

Bertelsman sided with two Northern Kentucky parents, Jason and Karen Oswald, whose children attend St. Joseph Elementary School, a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Covington. The Oswalds claim Beshear violated their First Amendment right to freedom of religion when he instituted the mandate.