The surge of COVID-19 cases in Kentucky is growing, and Scott County finds itself near the state’s epicenter.
“It’s a crucial week,” said Dr. Crystal Miller, public health director for WEDCO. “Whatever we can do to get people to wear masks we need to.”
For the state, the trend is alarming, Miller said.
“If we look at our data, it clearly shows we are trending similar to other states that opened up, and then they were overwhelmed,” she said. “It was the calm before the storm.”
Miller was among the state’s health directors who met with Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force in Frankfort Sunday. Dr. Birx has been traveling across the United States, starting in the southwest and working from Arizona across the southern states and South Carolina.
“Those are the states that are having a very significant epidemic right now,” she said.
Kentucky is among other states such as Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia nearing a dangerous level of coronavirus cases.
“We have significant concerns about the rising positivity rate and the rising number of cases,” Dr. Birx said. “These are states that need to close their bars, decrease indoor gatherings to less than 10 and to decrease social gatherings to less than 10.”
Over the past week, Scott County has experienced a significant increase with 20 new confirmed cases Friday and 59 over the past five days, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 248, including six hospitalizations. Neighboring Fayette County is now at 2,856 cases, including 98 new cases over the weekend.
“What we are seeing is these cases are directly linked to sports, church and travel,” Miller said. A number of the cases have been traced to travel for a church camp, she said.
Both Miller and Birx stressed the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands and keeping social gatherings to less than ten.
“At both the federal and state level we are agreed, the science is there to prove wearing a mask makes a difference,” Miller said. “We definitely have to quit making this political and just wear your masks.”
Miller said Kentucky, including Scott County, is at a fork in the road.
“If the numbers of cases continues to climb, I think it is highly unlikely we’ll be able to open schools in August,” she said.
“It is going to take all of us self-sacrificing, to wear masks, to make sure that it’s not an issue no matter where we are,” Birx said. “Each state needs to make the decision school district by school district, to ensure the virus levels in that school district are low.”
As of Sunday, Kentucky has reported 27,079 coronavirus cases with deaths nearing 700. Many of the new cases statewide are skewing younger and younger, including eight new cases Sunday of children ages 5 and younger. Twenty-two of the 58 cases in Scott County last week were younger than 30 years of age.
Mike Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.