For the fifth consecutive day Wednesday, Scott County recorded double digit confirmed cases of COVID-19, pushing its total number to 415 this year, according to the WEDCO Health District.
On Wednesday, WEDCO announced 20 confirmed cases with eight people hospitalized. Of the 415 confirmed cases, WEDCO reports some 118 have recovered. Fortunately, Scott County has not lost anyone to the coronavirus.
Since July 23, Scott County has seen a spike of 69 new cases. Many of those cases have been traced to church gatherings and camps, sporting events and travel out of state to other coronavirus hot spots, said Dr. Crystal Miller, WEDCO public health director.
Using a mask, washing your hands regularly, observing social distancing and now avoiding group gatherings of 10 or more people is critical to controlling the virus, Miller said.
Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear suggested churches reconsider gathering in-person after just re-opening a couple of weeks prior. Georgetown Church of the Nazarene’s pastor Mike Justice told his congregation Sunday the decision to suspend in-person services to return solely to virtual services was a difficult one.
“But it’s the right thing to do,” Justice said about suspending in-person services. “This building is not the church. You, the members are the church.”
The governor’s mask mandate, while not always well received, has been mostly observed, but even local governments are struggling with requiring masks.
County Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington has posted a video online encouraging wearing of masks, but admitted he did not believe he could mandate his magistrates to wear a mask during its meetings. However, at its most recent meeting, the magistrates observed social distancing and the magistrates in attendance each wore masks.
The Scott County Board of Education meeting also observed social distancing and every one in attendance wore a mask. Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub removed his mask to answer questions during a virtual town hall, but put the mask on once that portion of the meeting was complete.
Mayor Tom Prather gave council members the option to hold in-person meetings when Beshear lifted the public gathering limit to 50, but most council members opted for Zoom meetings. Two weeks ago, only three council members, including Prather, showed up in-person. This past week’s meeting only one, Marvin Thompson, showed up in council chambers while the others, including Prather, attended from home via Zoom. A few days earlier the governor reduced the number of people in a public gathering back to 10, which is why the council held that meeting online. The mayor has indicated he would likely require masks if meetings were held in-person or consider putting some type of shield between council member seats.
Multiple local photos appearing on social media from governments and area businesses frequently show people without masks and not observing social distancing, a situation that compounds the community’s growing dilemma.
“The data clearly shows masks slow the spread of the virus,” Miller said. “We definitely have to quit making this political and just wear your masks.”
Hub continues to make plans for in-person classes at Scott County Schools, holding a multiple virtual town hall meetings with parents, community leaders and teachers. He is stressing cleaning efforts, as well as mask mandates and plans to social distance while at school.
Even so, the number of COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Scott County.
Miller, who has been working with the school system as it prepares to open says the county’s surge must be slowed or curtailed if the community expects schools to open with in-person classes.
“We’re at a fork in the road,” she said. “If the number of cases continue to climb, I think it is highly unlikely we’ll be able to open schools in August.”
Meanwhile Georgetown College is preparing to open with in-person classes in August by creating outdoor spaces for students.
“The college’s newly established outdoor spaces will give professors the option of holding classes outside, so their students can reap the benefits associated with outdoor learning,” the college state on its Facebook page.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.