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“Just do it:” Health Dept. urges mask-wearing after 38 COVID-19 cases tied to Hazard Football team

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 3:38 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Update 7/20 11:06 p.m.

COVID-19 is a virus that can spread quickly.

“I think this just shows up that we can have some really good plans and this virus can spread especially in enclosed areas,” said Scott Lockhard with Kentucky River District Health Public Health Director.

In total, 38 people connected to the Hazard Bulldogs tested positive for COVID-19. 18 players, three coaches, and 17 people that all came in close contact with the players or coaches.

“And they were doing some good stuff they were trying to do as much stuff as they could outside they had social distancing protocols in the weight room and so on,” added Lockard.

After the Health Department conducted their contact tracing, they found some players and their families came back from vacation, but there is another way the virus could have spread.

“We can’t say with 100% certainty on anything. You know where it did spread, where it didn’t spread. It looks like the weight room is an area that was prime for spread,” said Lockard.

The health department is urging everyone to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.

“It’s about the health and well being of our friends, family, and neighbors. Wear the mask. Just put it on. Wear it when you’re out in public. They protect other people from you if you’re sick,” added Lockard.

The virus hits home for many, and right now all the community can do is work to stop the spread.

“This is home to me these are my friends my neighbors my family members that I just hope and pray that the people of this region will really take this seriously for what it is,” said Lockard.

“As always, the safety of our students and staff are our top priority. After the first notification of positive cases of our student-athletes, we met with KRDHD and followed policies and procedures. We suspended workouts at that time. Our student-athletes have not had any workouts or practices since July 7th. They are suspended until further notice. We will continue to follow all recommendations from KRDHD to ensure that all coaches and student-athletes remain safe and healthy,” said Hazard Independent Schools Superintendent, Sondra Combs.

Update 7/20

Director Scott Lockard with Kentucky River District Health Department said 38 COVID-19 cases are now tied to the Hazard High School Football team.

Of the 38 cases, there are 18 students, three coaches and 17 positive contacts.

Lockard said all 38 are recovering at home.

A spokesperson from Hazard Independent also commented saying, “As always, the safety of our students and staff are our top priority. After the first notification of positive cases of our student-athletes, we met with KRDHD and followed policies and procedures. We suspended workouts at that time. Our student-athletes have not had any workouts or practices since July 7th. They are suspended until further notice. We will continue to follow all recommendations from KRDHD to ensure that all coaches and student-athletes remain safe and healthy.”

Original Story 7/12

Tuesday, Hazard High School learned one of their student-athletes tested positive for COVID 19.

Friday, officials with the Kentucky River District Health Department announced eight more players and an assistant coach at the school tested positive as well, bringing the total number to nine players who tested positive for COVID 19.

Health officials say the athletes are all quarantined at their homes.

After the first initial test officials with Hazard Independent Schools placed practices on a two-week break, following CDC guidelines.

”We’ve contacted every kid that plays sports. We’re real out front on everything. I mean there’s nothing to hide. If you test positive, you test positive. It’s not a crime you just need to make sure you get well before you come back,” said Hazard High School Principal Happy Mobelini.

The result of closing down practices is a blow to kids who were just getting back to some sort of a normal life.

”We hated it for the kids because they were so excited about all of our sports getting to start back. People have to realize these kids have been off for three months with absolutely nothing to do,” said Mobelini.

With things stopped, for now. Officials at the district health department are beginning to stress the steps that need to be taken.

”We don’t want to shut the economy back down. We want to get closer to the life pre-COVID levels, and in order to do that masks are needed,” said Public Health Director Scott Lockard.

Masks, while now mandatory for almost all Kentuckians, will also be required for almost every athlete.

“Take all precautions you can. Everyone should be wearing masks. People that are spectating, kids in dugouts should be wearing masks, the only ones who should not be wearing thems are the ones in the field of play,” said Lockard. “We all love our basketball. We all love our football and sports and it’s just an important part of our society. But, we have to do it in a safe manner, and we have to do it in a way to not spread COVID to the rest of our teams, and our families, and to our community.”

Hazard Independent Schools have everything necessary to keep students protected when schools return. But, now that student-athletes are testing positive, it is putting everything to the test.

”We’re upset, but we’re going forward like we’re going to have a football season, volleyball season, golf season, soccer. But, you know we’re at the mercy of the virus.”

Hazard football just hired a new coach and was beginning its first practices under the new leadership.

Copyright 2020 WYMT. All rights reserved.

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