The total number of COVID-19 cases in Letcher County hit 209 this week, virtually ensuring that schools will remain closed for the foreseeable future to slow the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1,200 people statewide, and more than 210,000 in the US.
The new total represents 43 new cases since last Tuesday, just three less than the 47 new cases reported last week. (A new case was added to the total last Tuesday after press-time.)
The map used by the Kentucky Department of Education to show districts where they are in terms of reopening shows Letcher County still in the red, with an infection rate of 28.5 per 100,000, up from 25.2 last week. The rate is based on a seven-day rolling average of new cases.
Letcher County Schools Superintendent Denise Yonts said the district has closed down sports and practices, with the exception of conditioning, which is allowed under Kentucky High School Athletic Association rules to prevent athletes from being hurt when they return to full activities.
“We assume it’s still going to be in the red on Thursday, and we will have to stay closed,” Yonts said.
The Kentucky Department of Highways also closed its maintenance garage in Letcher County after an employee there tested positive.
“The employees at the facility are divided into two crews. The crew of which this employee is a member will be on a 14-day quarantine and it is expected that all these employees either have or soon will have a COVID-19 test,” said Sara George, spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation District 12 in Pikeville.
District 12 Chief District Engineer Mary Westfall- Holbrook said in a written statement that a professional cleaning crew was to deep clean and sanitize the maintenance garage and equipment on Tuesday, and the facility will remain closed to the public during this process. Employees will be dispatched from home to their worksites.
“This may take two days,” Westfall-Holbrook said. “We anticipate that the facility could re-open on Wednesday, but it may take until Thursday to ensure that all the cleaning and sanitizing protocols are met.”
If there is an emergency, citizens can call 606-433-7791.
Kentucky River District Health Director Scott Lockard said there continues to be community spread throughout the region, with four counties in his district — Letcher, Knott, Leslie, and Owsley — reaching critical status in the past week.
“I do know we’re seeing a lot of transmission up there. People should be mindful, wearing masks and avoiding mass gatherings if they can,” Lockard said.
Of the 21 cases announced in Letcher County, one was a very young infant, and the oldest 80 years old. Monday, which included cases on Saturday and Sunday, was the biggest reported increase the district has had since the pandemic began, Lockard said.
“It’s fall, people are tired of COVID, but COVID is not done with us,” he said.
The total number of cases in Letcher and surrounding counties this week are as follows: Knott – Total 232 (28 probable), (96 active, 135 recovered, 1 dead); Lee – Total 15 (1 probable), (0 active, 15 recovered); Leslie – Total 96 (7 probable), (46 active, 50 recovered); Letcher – Total 209 (69 probable), (105 active, 102 recovered, 2 dead); Owsley – Total 48 (14 probable), (14 active, 33 recovered, 1 dead); Perry – Total 352 (26 probable), (47 active, 296 recovered, 9 dead); Wolfe – Total 53 (12 probable) (20 active, 33 recovered); Pike – Total 516 (119 Active, 394 recovered, 3 dead); Harlan – Total 506 (11 dead); Wise Co., Va. – Total 456 (33 hospitalized, 9 dead); Norton, Va. – Total 39 (4 hospitalized).