Whitesburg KY
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Police say not all obey regulations and closings


Kentucky is struggling to keep a lid on the number of COVID-19 cases by closing businesses and banning large gatherings, and most people here are complying, officials say.

There have been some scattered complaints in Letcher County, but officials said most have been resolved.

While the state has closed campgrounds, parks, and non-essential businesses, and limited essential businesses to one customer at a time per family, police and health officials say they still have to investigate complaints that some businesses are remaining open despite the governor’s executive orders.

Sheriff Mickey Stine said his office has talked to “a couple of businesses,” and they have complied with the order.

Whitesburg City Police Chief Tyrone Fields said his department has had several complaints about one barber opening his shop daily during the quarantine, though police have not yet caught him with anyone in his chair.

“We have not got complaints on anybody else — just him,” Fields said. “But they’ve all been unsubstantiated.”

Fields said one of the complaints came from a health inspector, who got the police to go with him to look for violations.

“We’ve gone over there every time somebody has called, and nobody has been there,” he said.

Scott Lockhard, Kentucky River District Health Director, said the department had complaints about several businesses initially, but most have since come into compliance with the closure order.

“We’ve probably gotten some complaints on that barbershop, too, but anytime we’ve investigated, we haven’t seen any violations,” Lockard said.

Mayor Todd Depriest said the police have had some complaints about customers in businesses who were not following the social distancing guidelines, but the businesses have complied pretty well.

Depriest said he appreciated people’s willingness to try to help, because it will speed up the process of opening back up by reducing spread of COVID-19.

“We will get through this,” he said, adding that he had been in meetings with the Kentucky League of Cities on Tuesday to discuss how to prepare for the day when the virus is under control and businesses can reopen.

Some of the most vocal opponents statewide to social distancing have been church members who have complained that state has stopped them from worshiping. Several churches here held drive-in services on Easter, and which “is perfectly legal,” Beshear said during his address Sunday evening, but a church in western Kentucky flouted the rules against mass gatherings and is now filing suit against the state. That church claims the state violated its members’ rights by taking down the license numbers of cars in the parking lot to pass along to the local health department.

Beshear said there is no enforcement action being taken against the church, but the license numbers were recorded so if the coronavirus was spread to anyone in the congregation, health officials will have a list of people to begin putting into quarantine.

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