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Local officials provide Friday update in wake of expanding Coronavirus threat

NC GAZETTE / WBRT RADIO
STAFF REPORT

Friday, April 3, 2020 –– Local government officials, first-responders, school, business and health officials participated Friday morning in a first-ever Webex teleconference aimed at updating the community on how the different sectors of the community are responding to the Coronavirus pandemic.

What made this event unususual was that the participants all dialed in from their home or office in order to avoid contact with other people.

SARA JO BEST

LINCOLN TRAIL DISTRICT HEALTH DEPARTMENT. Sara Jo Best, the director of the Lincoln Trail Health Department, reported that there are currently 744 Coronavirus cases confirmed in Kentucky, with 20 of those in the Lincoln Trail’s six counties, including 7 in Hardin, 4 in Nelson, 3 in Marion, and 2 cases each in LaRue, Washington and Meade counties.

Best said there will likely be some discrepancy in the number of cases that the district reports versus Gov. Andy Beshear during his 5 p.m. daily press conferences. This is due to the fact that there are now more than 30 labs conducting tests for multiple providers, and those numbers may not always reach the same agencies at the same time.

The district has received two shipments of personal protective equipment from the national stockpile; a third shipment was canceled, and those resources redirected to the hardest-hit areas of the country.

She strongly urged residents to follow the health guidance on social distancing, and to stay home and away from people if at all possible.

Right now, the district is waiting for the Centers for Disease Control to update their guidance on the need for the public to wear face masks in public. Right now the need is to conserve masks for healthcare providers and first-responders.

DR. WILL MONARCH

FLAGET MEMORIAL HOSPITAL. Dr. Will Monarch, Flaget’s chief medical officer, reviewed the policy changes that have been in place now at the hospital. Those changes include a no visitor policy with limited exceptions; all staff now wearing masks in the hospital; they hospital is not requiring all patients to wear masks at this time.

The hospital is also screen employees as they enter the building. The hospital is making use of the tent supplied by Emergency Management that allows patients to be evaluated without entering the hospital. Flaget was the first hospital in the region to start a pre-building screening process.

The hospital is taking twice daily inventories of its personal protection equipment and reporting that information to local emergency management. The hospital is also evaluating plans for how it will deal with surge of possible virus patients in the coming weeks.

JOE PREWITT

NELSON CO. EMA/EMS. Joe Prewitt, emergency management director, reported that his agency has assisted with the delivery and distribution of 108,000 type 1 masks; 13,500 N95 masks and 168 gowns that have arrived from the national strategic stockpile.

Heaven Hill Distilleries and Jim Beam Brands are both manufacturing hand sanitizer, he said.

The county Emergency Operations Center is current on a Level 2 activation, which means that they are monitoring local resources and reporting data to the state EOC.

Nelson County EMS has enough personal protection equipment for about 2-1/2 weeks, he said. They are still seaching for additional sources of PPE for their staff. EMS staffers are reusing their masks during the shift, and all staff are screened at the start and end of every shift.

EMS has transportedd 12 possible virus patients so far, and transporteddd one confirmed virus patient from Flaget Memorial Hospital to Lexington.

EMS Medical Director Dr. Allen Smith said he was concerned about a shortage of PPE, but noted its hard to argue against the diversion of PPE to the hardest-hit areas of the country.

NCEDA/CHAMBER OF COMMERCE/TOURSIM. NCEDA President Kim Huston said local business and industry have been hit hard by the mandated shutdowns, though essential suppliers are still hard at work across the county.

Tourism had previously forecast a very active summer, but the forecast for the near future is “grim,” she said, as local attractions and restaurant are closed and travel reservations get canceled.

She encouraged those people out of work to apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible. She also said that small business assistance is available for small businesses who find themselves facing financial hardships. Contact your local bank for details, she suggested.

LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS. Robin McCoy, the director of community health and engagement at Nelson County Schools said the district is still serving food for kids, including deliveries to around 400 families and 450 meals picked up.

New Haven School and Nelson County High School are both running health clinics, she said. All employees are being screened, and the district is limiting the use of buildings and access to them.

Dr. Ryan Clark, superintendent of Bardstown City Schools, said the district is providing meals on Mondays and Wednesdays, with meals distributed in five locations and limited home delivery available.

SHERIFF RAMON PINEIROA

LAW ENFORCEMENT. Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa said that while the sheriff’s office is closed, they are still taking phone calls. If they can take a report by telephone, they will. Otherwise, the deputies remain on duty and on patrol as usual, he said.

Pineiroa said there has been an uptick in local crimes committed by outsiders coming into the community. But crminals are still being arrested and still going to jail.

Bardstown Police Department Chief Kim Kraeszig reported all her officers are healthy, though she has changed the shifts to reduce officers interaction with other officers. Previously, officers worked 10-hour shifts, which meant that the shifts overlapped. Now officers are working 12 hour shifts to reduce the overlap.

The police cars are being santizied every morning, and if a person is transported by police car, that car is sanitized again. The department has also moved to one-time use handcuffs to avoid the need to sterilize metal hand cuffs.

FIRE CHIEF BILLY MATTINGLY

CITY FIRE. Bardstown Fire Department Chief Billy Mattingly said his department is fully staffed, but still screens their firefighters.

With some people making their own hand santizer at home, he suggested anyone with questions about the possible interactions of various chemicals to first call the fire department for advice before mixing them.

“We are here, we are ready, and we are ready to respond,” Mattingly said.

COUNTY GOVERNMENT. Judge Executive Dean Watts said that he has asked Lowes and some other large stores to limit the number of shoppers the allow in their stores, particularly with nice weather in the weekend forecast.

He suggested that if you go to any store and see a crowd, leave and return at a later time when there are fewer shoppers there.

DEAN WATTS

Watts praised Jailer John “Buck” Snellen for his work at the jail. The jail population — normally over 130 — is now under 100 inmates.

The county’s parks are closed with the exception of walking trails. This includes playground equipment, soccer and softball fields.

CITY GOVERNMENT. While the day-to-day operation of City Hall has changed, staff members like engineers and others can be met by appointment.

Mayor Dick Heaton said the city’s IT deparment has 20 hots spots in the city providing internet access, and is looking for areas in the county to deploy more.

The city parks are closed, which includes basketball courts, pavillions, etc., but the green spaces are open.

Heaton reminded people that the best place they can be for the immediate future is in their homes, and social distancing is still the best method to avoid spreading the virus.

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