Health Director Expects Surge in Area COVID Cases
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH - Purchase District Health Department Director Kent Koster says local residents can likely expect to see a surge in cases of COVID-19 as more businesses open their doors back up to the public, and he says some may be feeling a false sense of security as they take unneeded risks.

During a press conference Friday at the McCracken County Emergency Management Complex, Koster said so far local case numbers are holding pretty steady, but other areas that reopened earlier are seeing a significant increase in infections, which may be an indicator of what's in store for our area.   

"We have been in the reopening phase for several days now. We're still seeing our numbers not increasing very much. I think everything that's been promoted so far to try to reduce the spread of the virus is working. It's still a pandemic. It's increasing in a lot of different areas. A lot of the areas that went down some are picking back up some because of reopenings," he said.

Koster reiterated the importance of good hygiene practices and social distancing as the most effective ways to prevent the disease's spread.

"We want to continue to stress the importance of hand washing, social distancing, staying at home as much as you can, trying to organize your purchases so you're not going to stores any more than you need to," he said.

Koster made a point to emphasize that wearing a mask remains one of the most effective tools the public can use to keep infection rates low. He acknowledged that some people don't wear masks, but said even the ones who don't will benefit from those who do.

"I know you go out and see a lot of people who don't wear a mask, but we're protecting them. They should appreciate that," Koster said. "There's this mindset that the pandemic is over. [Some local residents] don't know anyone personally who has had it, so they feel like it's a very low risk for them. The problem is if you're asymptomatic and you don't show any signs or symptoms you can still pass the virus on to others."

To drive his point about how easily transmissible the virus is, Koster spoke about recently learning that a family member who lives on the west coast had received a positive diagnosis.

"Recently I found out my nephew, who has been extremely cautious about his lifestyle has tested positive for the virus. He can't figure out how he got it," Koster said.

Koster says keeping a safe distance from others whenever possible is a good way to help prevent spreading the virus, but he says six feet may not be enough in every situation. 

"This distancing of six feet isn't magical. Twelve feet isn't magical," he said. "You can be following some runner and you can get it 30 feet away, because they're putting out droplets. Just be cautious and be respectful of everybody. It's gonna be a while before we get a vaccine. But in the meantime we have to continue to be very mindful that this is a pandemic. There are people dying from this."

Published 12:58 PM, Monday Jun. 15, 2020
Updated 08:55 PM, Tuesday Jun. 16, 2020



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