Green River District Public Health Director Clay Horton is “very concerned” about a recent increase in COVID-19 cases across the district’s seven-county region.
Daily cases have climbed to their highest levels since the coronavirus hit locally in March, he said.
For example, the district reported more than 30 new cases at least two days last week and 56 cases on Monday.
“We know we have a problem right now,” Horton said.
Of course, it’s not just Daviess County and the surrounding region. The problem exists across the state and nation.
In part, Horton blames a sense of complacency for the virus’ general community spread.
“We don’t have a major single source,” he said. “It’s a variety. It’s travel, social interactions and private get-togethers.”
Contact tracers have found vacations to Florida — Tampa Bay, Key Largo and the panhandle area, to name a few spots — along with Gulf Shores, Alabama, and the Carolinas have caused some recent GRDHD cases.
However, other residents became infected at pool parties, weddings, funerals, summer camps and backyard barbecues, Horton said.
“Right now is not a good time to have close or prolonged contact with people outside your household,” he said.
In addition, a few small workplace clusters have cropped up, and Signature Health, a long-term care facility in Hartford, reported up to 32 cases on Monday.
Horton said the recent increase is tied to events that took place a couple of weeks ago.
To curb risks, he touts “three Ws.” He urges everyone to wear a face mask, wash their hands and watch the distance between themselves and others. Health experts recommend at least 6 feet of space.
A face covering won’t provide 100% protection, he said, but federal and state health experts agree a mask can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19. It can protect the wearer as well as bystanders.
If 80% to 90% of the region’s population complied with Gov. Andy Beshear’s order to wear face coverings in public places, it could reduce the virus’ spread, Horton said.
Health departments across the state have been charged with overseeing face mask compliance in the communities they serve.
Although the governor’s order is new, GRDHD officials have received several complaints about noncompliance, which Horton views as a sign the public favors wearing masks. Health department officials provide education and other support to regional businesses on the complaint list.
Horton said the die is not cast when it comes to COVID-19. If residents comply with state orders and recommendations, the number of cases could decrease.
“We can have an effect on this,” he said.
GRDHD officials reported Wednesday 15 new confirmed COVID-19 cases — 12 in Daviess County, two in McLean County and one in Ohio County.
The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in GRDHD’s seven-county district has reached 1,163.
Beshear’s office reported 477 new confirmed cases, bringing the commonwealth’s total to 20,677.
State officials also reported 10 more deaths. To date, the virus has killed 645 Kentuckians.
Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, firstname.lastname@example.org