On a normal Independence Day holiday, people would be hitting the road, going to parties, backyard barbecues and fireworks displays.
But this year, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic requires people to be more than just cautious on the road.
Trooper Corey King, public affairs officer for the Kentucky State Police in Henderson, said troopers will be on the road in increased numbers during the holiday weekend, watching for intoxicated and distracted drivers.
Meanwhile, the director of the Green River District Health Department is urging people who do go out to take precautions to keep themselves and others safe during the pandemic.
“So many people have cabin fever right now that they will go to parties,” King said.
Clay Horton, the health department’s director, said the state’s guidelines allow for up to 50 people to gather, except for people in vulnerable groups. People over the age of 65 or with health conditions that put them at high risk of COVID-19 complications are recommended to remain at home.
“If you’re having a barbecue or having folks over to the house, they (the state) are saying it should be no more than 50 people, and they recommend wearing masks,” Horton said.
People at parties should also maintain a social distance of six feet and should not share food or drinks, Horton said.
“We have seen a steady climb in cases in Kentucky, and here as well,” Horton said. If people go out, “We are asking them to be careful,” and practice the “three Ws” — wear a mask, wash hands and watch your distance from other people.
Extra troopers and other law enforcement officers are often out working the roads over holidays when traffic and the potential for intoxicated driving increases. The pandemic has caused KSP to make some changes to their traditional holiday enforcement plans, King said.
“Typically, we do road checks, but we’ve suspended that,” King said Thursday. “We are going to be saturating the known areas of the counties … and look for the classic sign” of intoxicated or distracted driving, he said.
The holiday weekend is typically dangerous on roadways. “I know there are so many people wanting to get out and do something,” King said, but said, “we do see an increase in wrecks and fatality wrecks” around the Fourth of July.
“If (people) plan to go to a party, have a designated driver,” King said. Or, “have some kind of contingency in place, an Uber or a Lyft.”
Troopers will be looking for intoxicated and distracted drivers, and for people not wearing seat belts, King said.
“The number we are shooting for is zero fatalities,” King said. “... The odds and probability of being in some kind of wreck increase with people traveling.”
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse