After months of few cases, Harlan County sees increase in COVID-19 numbers

Seven of nine current cases originate in Tri-Cities are
Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 5:44 PM EDT
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Harlan County was one of eight counties in Kentucky to yet record a positive COVID-19 case in mid-may.

After someone who lives in the county, but works out of state, tested positive, Judge Executive Dan Mosely knew it was only the start of what he knew was already there.

“People have to refocus and remember that this virus is here, it’s real and it’s killing people every day, and we have to do our part to make sure we don’t spread it,” said Mosley.

Now, the county has 15 cases, nine of them still active with two people in the hospital.

“We all have to do what we have to do to keep this from spreading individually, not professionally, individually as a human, in this time with an area we live in having so much COPD and black lung,” said Mosley. “We need to think about the people who live around us, and do what we need to, to protect them.”

Seven of the nine active cases all come from the same area of Benham, Cumberland, and Lynch, which is also known as the tri-cities.

“When you combine now seven of the nine cases in Harlan County that are in that area it’s easy to see when you go from a youth ministry group to a school, to a church how you can get over 100 people in quarantine,” said Mosley.

Several weeks ago WYMT did a story with Dr. Abdul Dahhan as he ramped up coronavirus testing at his clinic south of Harlan.

Wednesday, more than 1,400 coronavirus tests have been administered in Harlan County, leading to 14 of the 15 positive cases, as one was tested out of state.

Dr. Dahhan says the increase in cases may not necessarily come from a new prevalence of the virus, but increased testing available to all.

“The number of people getting tested have(sic) increased. The policy that started have(sic) become more effective i.e. swabbing people who are not terribly sick, people who are going to the hospital, people who come in for nonspecific symptoms will have to be swabbed,” said Dr. Dahhan.

The Doctor admits that the virus may be here to stay and social distancing and masks are a way to spread it less. He, however, believes that there is some normalcy that needs to be returned to life, but with expanded contact tracing the normalcy could return quicker.

“I would love to do it more, I mean that’s the most important facet of controlling the virus cuz if you find someone who has it you find out who they came in contact with, who did they get it from and that will help prevent the spread even further,” said Dr. Dahhan.

As the state has dropped the one shopper per household mandate it is still in place in Harlan County, all with the intention of limiting the spread, preventing an overload of a healthcare system that cannot withstand high capacity, and protecting three assisted living facilities in the county that house the very people the coronavirus impacts the most.

Copyright 2020 WYMT. All rights reserved.

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