Local COVID cases on the decline;
County reports ninth virus-related death

Published 7:54 am Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Bell County was one of the last in the state to report a positive COVID-19 case. When it hit, the virus spread quickly with case totals climbing on an almost daily basis. Now, officials say the virus appears to be slowing down locally.

Bell County Public Health Director Teresa Hunter’s office released a statement Tuesday reporting no new cases. The county’s total stands at 364 cases, and 66 of those are listed as active, according to the statement, with 298 cases being recovered.

There are seven patients hospitalized, including six males ranging in age from 59 to 94, and one 94-year-old female. There have been nine deaths in Bell County, with the latest being a 70-year-old male who passed away Sunday, Aug. 23.

Trissa Wilder, nursing director for the Bell County Health Department, said she thinks people are taking more precautions, which is helping drive down new cases of the virus.

“I think more people are being cautious and using social distancing, wearing masks like they should and washing their hands and using sanitizer,” she said.

Wilder said guidelines have changed recently in terms of testing.

“If you’ve tested as a positive COVID case, you shouldn’t get retested for 90 days because you can still show positive for up to 90 days after you have a positive result,” she said. “Some are getting tested four or five times just to get the clearance to go to work, so they’ve advised not to get retested if you’re positive for 90 days. I’m not sure, but I’m hoping it’s slowing down.”

Wilder said she believes most of the county’s cases now are in long-term care.

“I think we were late to the game, even with Bell County being one of the last to report a case. But we are seeing a decline in the positives so that’s great,” she added.

With high school sports in Kentucky getting the go-ahead to play their fall seasons, as well as other activities that are getting people out of their homes and back into public, Wilder said continuing to be cautious is important.

“We advise people to continue social distancing, continue wearing your mask and hand wash. Also, flu season is coming up and we encourage everyone to get their flu vaccine. Staying healthy is the key,” she said.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that state numbers are also down, as he reported 373 new cases of the virus in the state, and 68 of the newly reported cases were from children ages 18 and younger, with 14 of those being age 5 and under. The youngest was 7 months old.

“The normal beginning of a school year has us all feeling the same things: We want to get over this, we want to get our kids out of the house. And I, at least, am seeing a change that goes beyond the ‘When to return to school?’ debate,” he said. “We’re seeing more people trying to get out of quarantine when the health department has recommended it. Those feelings are natural but they’re harmful. This is a war. Whether we win or lose depends on the number of battles that we win. Let’s pick it up because lives depend on it.”

Statewide, Beshear reported there have been 43,899 COVID-19 cases as of Monday, and there have been at least 822,904 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate currently stands at 4.77%. At least 9,544 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

Kentucky had four deaths reported Monday, raising the state’s total to 885.

“We’ve been able to push our mortality rate almost a percentage point lower than the national average,” said Gov. Beshear. “But we had more deaths announced last week than in any week where we’ve been battling this virus.”