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Bell reaches 114 COVID cases

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bell County has risen to 114 according to a statement issued Tuesday morning by Bell County Health Department Director Teresa Hunter.

The statement indicates that 84 cases are currently listed as active in the county, and four of those cases involve a patient who is hospitalized. Those hospitalized include a 63-year-old male and three females, ages 50, 71, and 74.

Local cases have risen rapidly in recent weeks, as the county’s total climbed from May 16, when the first official case was announced by the health department. Since then, the total reached 11 cases as of July 1, and then 67 cases on July 7, and now 114 cases as of July 13.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order and filed an emergency regulation on Thursday, July 9, requiring Kentuckians to wear face coverings under several circumstances for the next 30 days. The order went into effect on Friday, July 10 at 5 p.m.

Gov. Beshear re-emphasized the importance of wearing face coverings in many situations to protect Kentucky lives and the state’s economy, and to preserve the commonwealth’s hard-won but fragile progress in the fight against the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), according to a statement issued by the governor’s office.

“The more people who wear masks, the more leaders who model wearing masks in any region of the state, the more people there are going to be safer, are going to have their economy reopen and be able to stay open, are more likely to be able to get their kids back in school and are less likely to lose people,” Gov. Beshear said. “Those who don’t follow the mask requirements and don’t model this, again, you’re just risking the lives, the economy and the schooling of the people in your community.”

The governor’s office also said that according to health experts, wearing face coverings not only protects others, it also lowers the infection risk for those wearing masks by 65%. The governor pointed to analysis from Goldman Sachs showing that if everyone in America was required to wear face coverings in public, it could save the U.S. economy from losing 5% of the Gross Domestic Product. Gov. Beshear noted that 5% of Kentucky’s Gross State Product alone is $10.4 billion.

Gov. Beshear added that younger people are now being confirmed with positive cases of the virus.

“We’ve got a lot of kids under 5 years old in this report that have COVID-19. Folks, I have kids, and they’re older than this now but when they would get a fever, my heart would stop beating. I mean I would stop breathing when they were hurting. Whatever your reason is to wear a mask, this is a pretty good one.

“We continue to see a rise in cases for children under five. Today we have 11 and the youngest is just four months old. This impacts our children, too,” Gov. Beshear said Monday.

Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock said in a statement via the governor’s office that if Kentucky goes back into a shutdown situation, a lack of wearing masks will be to blame.

“If it happens that we have to end up going back to some of that closing-type stuff, it’s going to be because people wouldn’t wear masks. That’s what it’s going to boil down to …. No matter what is going on out there nationally, it should be common sense if you’ve got this mask on you’re protecting yourself and others. I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that. Common sense tells me if I’m covering my mouth that it’s going to help me protect myself from an airborne virus,” Brock said.

As of Monday, July 13, Gov. Beshear reported that Kentucky has 19,653 coronavirus cases, with 272 of those being reported new as of that date. He also reported that 629 Kentuckians have lost their lives to the virus thus far.

As of Monday, there have been at least 480,372 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. At least 5,344 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus, according to a statement from Gov. Beshear’s office.

Bell County Health Department has issued a list of recommended behaviors as a safety measure, and wearing a mask is on that list, along with washing your hands with soap and water; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; staying home when you are sick; covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing that tissue in the trash; and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.