Letcher County has seen three more cases of COVID-19 since last week, bringing the total number in the county who are affected by the virus to 17.
The Kentucky River District Health Department announced one new case on Monday and two on Tuesday. The case announced Monday was a 43-year-old male. On Tuesday, the agency announced that a 61-year-old woman and an 80-year-old male have tested positive for the disease, which is cause by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV2.
The number of cases has doubled since June 13, when the number of people increased to eight from four.
Scott Lockard, District Health Director, said there is no common place that the virus can be traced back to for the three who tested positive. None had been out of the area, and they didn’t frequent the same places.
“We’re just at the point of community transmission here now,” he said.
In addition to Letcher County, there were five new cases in Perry County on Tuesday, a 20-year-old woman and a 68-year-old woman in Perry County on Monday, and two 49-yearold women from Knott County on Monday.
Lockard said there were several additional positives after the reporting deadline on Tuesday, but he did not know what counties those cases are from. He said contact tracers are working on those cases now, and the numbers will be released today.
The rising number of cases has Letcher Jailer Bert Slone worried about a possible outbreak in the jail. One deputy jailer tested positive on June 11 and still has not returned to work. Meanwhile, Slone said he is having trouble keeping inmates quarantined as the number of people in the jail increases.
“They’re bringing them in so fast, we can’t keep inmates isolated for 14 days before we sent them back (to cells),” Slone said.
He said everyone who works at the jail has been tested and inmates are tested as needed. But, he said the policy is to isolate all incoming prisoners for 14 days before placing them in the general population. The isolation cells are in the front part of the jail, and Slone said it’s impossible to socially distance inmates because of the size of the cells.
“Anytime you put somebody else in that cell, you have to start the isolation over again for the one that’s already in there,” Slone said.
Congregate living facilities such as jails, nursing homes and college dormitories are of concern to health officials because the virus can spread like wildfire in communal housing. The virus can then be spread to the community as employees go to and from work.
Statewide, there had been 17,152 confirmed cases of the viral disease as of Tuesday evening, and 593 deaths. A total of 4,785 patients have recovered. The total number of cases is up from 15,347 a week ago.
Despite rising numbers, Kentucky’s daily increases have been fairly steady.
Nationally, the numbers of cases has exploded. Several states, including West Virginia, are now requiring people to wear masks in public.
In Arizona, 90 percent of the intensive care rooms and 82 percent of all hospital beds are filled, leaving little room for a surge in new COVID-19 cases. Hospitals in Texas and Florida are also filling up.
There had been 3,073,170 positive cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday evening, and 133,668 people had died from the virus, about 4.4 percent of those who have contracted the virus.