Whitesburg KY
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Cases expected to rise here with more testing


The number of COVID-19 cases in Letcher County has increased to at least four, up one from a week ago. However state and district health figures differ.

The state web site for COVID-19 shows five positive cases in Letcher County.

The new case was added to the state numbers on Tuesday. Only four cases were listed Tuesday morning, but the number had increased to five by later in the day. The fourth case, a 51-year-old woman, was announced on May 14.

Kentucky River District Health Director Scott Lockard said he believes the number on the state web page is an error.

“According to our records and what’s in the state NEDSS computer right now, we’ve got four cases,” Lockard said, referring to the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.

The state also lists 20 cases in Perry County. But Lockard said one of those is known to have been a negative case that was entered incorrectly and is slated to be taken out of the system.

Last week, Lockard said he expects reported cases to begin increasing.

“We’re fully expecting to get more cases as Mountain Comp ramps up their testing,” Lockard said.

Mike Caudill, chief executive officer of Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, said Tuesday morning that he had not been told of any additional positives as a result of the testing, which he said had fairly busy.

“ It went pretty good here,” Caudill said of the testing. “As a matter of fact, yesterday from 5 to 8 was our best day. I think we had 48 then.”

Lockard also said he did not believe the additional case shown on the state’s page came from testing at MCHC.

“We have not had any positive cases reported to us that’s in the system. If Mountain Comp had gotten a positive, we would have known about it,” he said.

MCHC provided free drive-through testing at the old Whitesburg High School and at its clinic in Harlan over the weekend, but Caudill said the Harlan site had not been as well attended. Thus far, Harlan County has only reported one case of COVID-19, but that number is thought to be artificially low because of the lack of testing.

Caudill said MCHC plans to do additional drive-through testing in the region, and might do additional testing in Letcher County “in the next couple of weeks.”

“Our plans for the future is do it over at Owsley County at the request of the regional health department, and we’re going to evaluate this (Whitesburg site) and see if it needs to be repeated,” he said.

MCHC tested 146 people in Letcher County over the weekend and 39 in Harlan.

Kentucky has now tested 153,800 people, or about 3.5 percent of the population. Of those, 8,069 have tested positive, 366 have died and 2,826 have recovered. Twenty Kentuckians died of COVID 19 on Tuesday alone.

In the counties surrounding Letcher, there have been 28 confirmed cases in Pike County, four in Knott, 19 in Perry, one in Harlan, 2 in the City of Norton, Va., and 23 in Wise County, Va., where 10 have been hospitalized and two have died.

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