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Healthcare and school officials join local leaders for COVID-19 press conference

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, March 13, 2020 — 12:30 p.m. — Local government officials were joined by school, health department and medical officials this morning for a press conference at Bardtown City Call about local preparedness efforts for the Coronavirus, or COVID-19.

The city and county governments are suspending all recreation programs. This will include closing the city recreation department gyms and city and county sports league play.

Local officials speak at a press conference Friday morning at Bardstown City Hall. From left, Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton; Judge Executive Dean Watts; Nelson County Schools Superintendent Wes Bradley; Bardstown City Schools Superintendent Ryan Clark; Bethlehem High School Principal Tom Hamilton; Netta Nusz, Flaget Memorial Hospital’s director of operations; and Kami Poole-Warder, the hospital’s chief nursing officer.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT. No one in the Lincoln Trail Health Department area has been diagnosed with COVID-19 according to health department director Sara Jo Best. She recommended that people seeking information depend on reliable sources and not depend solely on rumors or social media for information.

WES BRADLEY

LOCAL SCHOOLS. Nelson County Schools will close beginning next Tuesday, according to Superintendent Wes Bradley. The non-traditional instruction period will last two weeks while school is closed.

All county school activities — child care, school trips, etc. — are closed or canceled for the next two weeks, he said. The district will also evaluate the need for additional closures, and will advise families of possible changes.

Bardstown City Schools Superintendent Ryan Clark said the district schools will close beginning next Tuesday for two weeks and will utilize non-traditional instruction during that time. The district goes on Spring Break for the next two weeks, and will return to classes on Monday, April 13, 2020.

TOM HAMILTON

Both districts will be providing school lunch services. The school district’s websites will have locations and times.

Bethlehem High School Principal Tom Hamilton said the parochial schools in the county will close beginning next week for two weeks. The district has its Spring Break scheduled the two weeks after the closure, and will return to classes on Monday, April 13, 2020.

FLAGET MEMORIAL HOSPITAL. Kami Poole-Warder, Flaget’s chief nursing officer, reviewed the latest changes at the hospital, which include screening all visitors and turning away those who exhibit any symptoms.

The hospital’s skilled nursing unit is closed to visitors per state recommendations, she said. Additionally, only parents and grandparents will be admitted to the hospital’s maternity ward.

The hospital plans to utilize a hazmat tent courtesy of the county’s emergency management agency and place it outside the hospital’s emergency room for use in triaging incoming patients before they actually enter the hospital.

Health department Director Sara Jo Best speaks to the media during Friday’s press conference at Bardstown City Hall.

Poole-Warder emphasized the hospital is ready and has the resources available to adequately treat local patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

NELSON COUNTY EMS. Joe Prewitt, director of Nelson County EMS, said the service is changing some of its protocols before the virus arrives in the county.

EMS is asking patients with complaints of general illnesses to call their primary care doctor rather than ask EMS to take them to the hospital.

“If its a general illness type of call, do not use emergency services unless you feel like you’re in a life or death situation,” he said. “Callling an ambulance will not get you in the Emergency Room quicker.”

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. Judge Executive Dean Watts said he will issue an executive order later today, Friday, March 13, 2020, regarding COVID-19 to discontinue recreation events temporarily.

Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton said there will be no interruption of city service like garbage pickup for now, he said.

He and Watts are asking organizations to cancel all meetings of 50 or more people.

“This virus is real, and if widespread, it could be devastating,” Watts said.

Heaton echoed Watts’ statement, and placed emphasis on the need for the public’s cooperation to help contain the spread of the virus.

“This is an unprecedented health issue and we’re all in uncharted territory,” he said. “We’re asking the public to do their part” in keeping the virus from spreading.

“This is about us — ALL of us — and not just ‘me’,” Heaton said.

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