Government, Health Officials Hold COVID Conference
By West Kentucky Star Staff
WESTERN KENTUCKY - On Thursday, local government and health care officials held a conference regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the community.

Jenny Franke, Chief Clinical Officer for Mercy Health Lourdes, and Dr. Brad Housman, Chief Medical Officer at Baptist Health Paducah, both shared a similar message.

Both hospitals have recently seen a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 patients they are seeing. 

Franke said the biggest issue they have encountered at Lourdes is staffing. More hospital staff are getting sick with COVID-19, although it is not at a critical point yet.

Franke urged the public to take the pandemic seriously, while Housman said now more than ever they need the cooperation of the community.

Kent Koster with the Purchase District Health Department said COVID-19 cases in the Purchase District are up 221 percent over the last month, from 898 cases to 2,185 cases. He said hospitals are experiencing a 1,400 percent increase in COVID patients.

According to Koster, the mortality rate is currently 1.2 percent.

He said McCracken County currently has an incident rate of 70.8 percent, three times higher than the minimum rate of 25 that is required for red zone classification.

Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless said beginning Friday they will be closing city government buildings in response to the pandemic, and encouraged city residents to take action.

She said, "Now is the time to put aside any doubt, any political question that you have, and to recognize that the leaders in your community are saying that this is a problem and that we have got to respond to it."

According to Harless, the city will be taking steps to take care of the community and city employees.

She continued, "This is a pleading and begging moment for this community, and when you hear that we went from 800 [cases] to 1,000 in a month, that should be enough to send a signal to our community that it's time to take this seriously."

Harless said they will still be collecting property tax payments and encouraged city residents to leave their payments in the drop box outside of city hall. If anyone needs to contact city hall, they can do so by calling 270-444-8800.

McCracken County Judge Executive Craig Clymer said county officials are assessing whether the county will close down or not. 

He said, "The county offers some services that are different from the city and so we're trying to balance protections along with still being able to provide services to people that they are used to getting."

Clymer urged residents to "strengthen their resolve" when it comes to the virus. He encouraged everyone to mask up and keep their distance.

You can see the full meeting below.


Published 06:00 PM, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020
Updated 07:09 AM, Friday Nov. 20, 2020



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