The number of cases of COVID-19 in Letcher County was down significantly this week, but health officials cautioned residents not to become complacent.
Numbers are rising statewide and nationwide, and experts say the worst in yet to come.
The total number of cases in Letcher County now stands at 279, up from 255 one week ago. That represents a slowdown in the number of cases here. While there were 24 new cases this week, there were 46 last week, 43 the week before and 47 the week before that.
Kentucky River District Health Director Scott Lockard said the cases began to peak right after Labor Day. While there were several big events beginning Labor Day weekend and continuing for the next couple of weeks, Lockard said epidemiologists were not able to pin down where the infections were spread in many cases.
“Unlike the other counties, we saw an increase of community spread, but not one single event we could trace it to,” Lockard said.
Part of that is because of a lack of cooperation from a few people when asked about their contacts, but mostly it was because of those infected had been many different places.
“They didn’t pinpoint it directly, but people were talking about being ‘out,’” Lockard said.
He said currently, several cases are tied to sports, with people who attended school sporting events or played sports becoming exposed and testing positive.
“The KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) guidance was pretty good up until tournament time, and then they just said disregard community spread and let them play,” Lockard said.
He said he expects another surge when basketball season begins.
In the past seven days, Letcher County has had five cases among persons under 18 years old, a 26-year-old female, a 33-year-old male, two 36-year-old females, a 41-year-old male, a 48-year-old male, a 49-year-old male, a 49-year-old female, two 52-year-old males, a 54-year-old female, a 56-year-old male, a 57-year-old male, a 65-year-old male, a 68-year-old female, a 69-year-old male, a 70-year-old male, a 71-year-old female, and a 74-year-old female.
As of Tuesday night, the average rate of infection for the county was 20.5, down from Monday.
Most recent numbers for Letcher and the surrounding counties are: Knott – Total 294 (31 probable) (144 active, 148 recovered, 2 dead); Lee – Total 39 (8 probable) (20 active, 19 recovered); Leslie – Total 116 (8 probable) ( 59 active, 57 recovered); Letcher – Total 279 (86 probable) (133 active, 144 recovered, 2 dead); Owsley – Total 456 (32 probable) (136 active, 311 recovered, 9 dead); Perry – Total 456 (32 probable) 136 active, 311 recovered, 9 dead); Wolfe – Total 61 (15 probable) (21 active, 40 recovered); Harlan – Total 563; Pike – Total 721 (190 active, 527 recovered, 4 dead); Wise Co., Va. – Total 534 (37 hospitalized, 9 dead); Norton, Va. – Total 45 (5 hospitalized).