How COVID impacts our region is on us, health officials say. Kentucky River District sees biggest case jump in one week.

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 5:01 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - In the last week, the Kentucky River District Health Department saw more COVID-19 cases in the span of seven days than they have ever reported in a single week since the pandemic began.

The KRDHD covers seven counties: Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe.

“We’re very much in the middle of this pandemic,” said KRDHD Public Health Director Scott Lockard. “We’re still in the first wave.”

On June 10, the district announced that all 40 of the COVID cases had recovered. Perry County had 22 cases at that point, one week later on June 17, there are 42 cases in the county.

“We expected this when we started doing the reopening, that this would occur,” Lockard added.

The district also announced the first COVID-related death. The man who died was 79 years old and was Perry County’s first case. The reason he was counted as ‘recovered’ in the initial 40 cases, was because when he died he tested negative for the coronavirus.

“This individual had been in the hospital and went to another facility, unfortunately from the time they went into the hospital in March they were never able to return home again,” Lockard said.

A handful of the new cases in Perry County are linked to a church. Lockard added that he is not trying to single our churches but those attending need to be mindful.

“Churches especially, if they’re doing congregation singing, they really have a condition there, they’re setting up an environment that is just prone to the exposure of COVID-19.”

In the KRDHD’s region, Letcher County also saw a recent growth in cases. One of them was a Walmart worker in the county. Lockard says the risk of exposure is low in that case though.

For the risk to be high, Lockard adds that you need to be around the person for about 30 minutes, within that six-foot range, and not be wearing a mask.

The Letcher County Jail also has had to send employees home and isolate inmates after a part-time worker tested positive. Lockard said the jail has been incredibly proactive with their response.

How we react to the pandemic in our region, determines how it will spread, Lockard added.

“If we take the precautions that we need to take, we continue to try and stay healthy at home as much as we can, and we’re out in public we wear masks we take all available precautions, we can slow the viruses spread in our community. If we act like the pandemic is over, and we stop wearing masks out in public, we go on about our businesses, this virus is just going to spread more.”

There are currently two people in the hospital with COVID-related conditions who are positive with the virus. One of those people is in “very critical condition,” Lockard said.

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