State agencies tasked with the slowing the spread of COVID-19 have begun issuing citations to businesses that don’t comply with the state restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the disease.
The change follows a week of high numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the state, and increasing deaths.
Among those deaths was that of a 67-year-old woman from Letcher County.
The Kentucky River District Health Department announced the death on Monday.
According to social media posts by the family, the 67-year-old female was diagnosed with the viral illness about four weeks ago and had been on a ventilator. She died over the weekend of complications caused by the disease.
The Mountain Eagle is not identifying the woman for privacy reasons.
The death is the second in the county is related to COVID-19. A 72-year-old man died the first week of August.
Kentucky River District Health Director Scott Lockard said the health department was receiving training on issuing the public health citations on Tuesday, and will begin issuing them when it receives complaints. The Kentucky Labor Cabinet is already issuing notices of deficiency, and issued one to M.K. Motorsports last week after the health department received complaints about Mountain Motor Speedway at Isom and passed it on to the other agency.
No one could be reached at the phone number the racetrack lists on its Facebook page.
Lockard said the first time a citation is issued, it is a warning. If the agency receives another complaint and it finds that valid, the second citation carries a $50 fine. The third time increases the fine to $75. Fourth and subsequent offenses are $100 fines, Lockard said.
Until now, the state has been relying on businesses to police themselves, however the system will now allow the department to issue citations to both businesses and individuals.
The district health department issued only a partial report of new cases on Tuesday, saying it had received information on six new cases in the seven-county area and one probable case. Probable cases are those what show positive on a antibody test, which can mean the person has the disease, but also can mean that they have had it in the past. The department reported cases as follows: an 18-year-old male and a 54-year-old male from Knott County, a pediatric case under 18 in Owsley County, a 26-year-old female from Perry County, and a 61-year-old male and a 71-year-old female from Wolfe County.
The agency did not list totals on Tuesday, however according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks cases nationwide by county. Letcher and surrounding counties now have the following totals: Lee – 7, Owsley – 16, Wolfe – 18, Leslie – 38, Letcher – 67, Knott – 79, Floyd – 119, Wise Co., Va. – 244, Perry – 256, Harlan – 257, Pike – 270.