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Committee forwards CCHD vaccine marketing request to council
  • Updated

The Hopkinsville Committee of the Whole met Thursday for a regular meeting in which the committee voted to forward a Christian County Health Department vaccine marketing request to city council as well as the possibility of hiring a company to conduct a feasibility study on the Hopkinsville Fire Department.

CCHD Marketing and Communications Director Cloie Rager, who recently took over the position for Amanda Sweeney-Brunt, came before the committee to explain that the department has exhausted all of its allocated funding for marketing, which has almost entirely been aimed at COVID-19 vaccine advertisements.

With that in mind, Rager explained that CCHD has found that the “younger” citizens of Christian County, which the department categorizes as ages 18 — 30, are not getting vaccinated at the same rate as other ages.

“This week alone … of our 195 actives cases, 109 of those are ages 22 — 59,” Rager said to the committee. “So, that’s pretty stark. Our younger people are just less likely to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons — lots of times they are healthy, not getting lots of medical treatment, so it’s not on their priorities.”

In order to attempt to reach that population of residents, CCHD proposes seeking advertisements on two radio stations that are popular with that age group — 101.1 and 107.5.

Rager explained that while CCHD is currently advertising on several other radio stations, such as WHOP, WKDZ, 5 Star Radio and The Beaver, the cost of advertising with iHeart Radio is higher and the department no longer has the funding to consider those stations.

“We’ve exhausted our marketing funds as well as the grant funds available through Pennyrile Area District Development for COVID marketing,” Rager said.

“Frankly, the reason we have not done this before is it’s much more expensive than any of the other stations that we have advertised on. So, that’s something that’s just not really feasible for us, but it is a target audience that we’re currently probably not capturing with the current stations that we are advertising on.”

Rager explained that CCHD’s advertising plan with iHeart Radio will be approximately a month long and will focus on getting those younger individuals vaccinated prior to the Christmas holiday, when families tend to gather in larger groups.

Rager added that the ad campaign will reach a total of 238,291 people across the two stations, consists of 112 total ads, each 30 seconds a piece and will cost a total of $12,280.

This request comes after a previous discussion held at the committee of the whole regarding the health department’s proposal for the vaccine incentive program, which the city council ultimately approved after Mayor Wendell Lynch voted to approve it in a tie-breaker vote.

That proposal allocated roughly $110,000 in order to reach the CCHD’s goal of vaccinating 1,000 additional people through the incentive program.

During that discussion, several committee members shared that they would rather approve additional marketing funding for the department to advertise for vaccines rather than “handing money over to citizens” who choose to get the vaccine for the incentive.

Rager shared with the committee that while the results of the incentive program have not yet been finalized, CCHD is estimating that it will have reached around 290 new vaccinations through the program. That number is ultimately far below the 1,000 person goal.

Being that CCHD did not reach that goal, there will be a large sum of funding leftover from the program.

During Thursday’s meeting, a few committee members suggested using the funds that were leftover from the incentive to fund CCHD’s additional marketing request and possibly any future marketing requests this fiscal year.

“The way I see it, we’ve already budgeted money for this program that’s not being used, so I’d like to make a motion that we forward this to council,” Committee Member Amy Craig said.

However, Committee Chairman Terry Parker suggested allowing the department to use of the remaining funding to help in the battle against the pandemic.

“Since we’ve kind of already obligated this money for COVID, I don’t know why we don’t just go ahead and give them that remaining part of that money to help in the fight against COVID,” Parker said. “I don’t know what anyone else’s thought on that would be.”

In response to that idea, Committee Member Steve Keel shared that he does not have a problem allocating funds for things like this, but he does not like allocating money “blindly.”

With that in mind, Keel suggested approving CCHD’s requested amount of $12,280 and afterwards having the department present the committee or council with a specific plan of additional marketing strategies, which include costs of specific plans before allocating the leftover funds from the incentive program.

Ultimately, the committee voted to forward the request to the council.

In other committee business, the committee heard a proposal from Hopkinsville Fire Chief Steve Futrell for the city to hire a company to perform a feasibility study on the fire department to determine what areas of the department need to be improved first to ensure the city’s safety.

The study would look at the condition of existing facilities, the need for relocation of any facilities, operational requirements and needs, equipment needs and the probable cost for any upgrades, renovations, relocation or additions.

“What we would like to do and what we’re asking for is to bring in a company that will do a feasibility study that will work with us, go through our run volume, our city, look at what we’re responding to, look at our annexations that our city has done in the last 20 years,” Futrell said, before adding that many of the fire department’s building are older.

“It’s been 22 years since we built a fire station and most of our buildings are 60 years old now,” he said.

In essence, Futrell explained that it would be easy for him as the chief to approach the mayor and request that the city look into improving one area of the department, but he would rather have experts show the department exactly what the city should consider doing first to improve the local fire department.

“So, what we’re asking for is a (request for qualifications) just to put something out there to have companies that do this respond back to us and give us an idea of what that would look like,” Futrell said.

Ultimately, the committee voted to forward the request to the council for consideration.

City of Hopkinsville employee George Lander puts up Christmas decorations in Little River Park on Thursday. The lights will be turned on prior to the Thanksgiving break.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas

Deadline extended for Christmas parade
  • Updated

Those wishing to have a float or other entrant in the 2021 HES/energynet Night Christmas Parade will have a few more days to get registered as the deadline has been extended to Wednesday, December 1.

Entry forms may be picked up at the Parks and Recreation office on Thomas Street or online at hoptownrec.com. The cost to enter a float into the parade is $20 and a new toy.

The parade will once again magically light up downtown Hopkinsville on Saturday, December 11 at 5:15 p.m. as the parade returns after a COVID absence in 2020. The 2021 parade theme will appropriately be “Home for the Holidays” as the community and country continue to rally from the pandemic’s impact.

Parade co-grand marshals will be “First and Front Line Responders” as the parade salutes those who have led the daily battle against COVID in up-close and personal duty. One representative from the Hopkinsville Fire Department, Hopkinsville Police Department, Christian Co. Sheriff’s Office, Christian County Emergency Management, Christian County Health Department and Jennie Stuart Health will lead the parade together.

The nighttime spectacular will have attendees oohing and awing as local businesses and organizations come to show off their moving light displays as the parade moves south on Main Street and wind its way from Glass Avenue to 13th Street.

“HES/energynet is excited to see the Christmas night parade return to Hopkinsville this year,” said Hopkinsville Electric System/energynet general manager Jeff Hurd in a press release. “We are proud to sponsor this holiday event which will recognize all the front-line responders who protect and serve our community. HES/energynet wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and hope you enjoy the “Home for the Holidays” night parade.

Traditional display units and Christmas-themed floats will be joined once again by holiday decorated golf carts. The Christmas Parade Golf Cart Division — sponsored by Western Hills Municipal Golf Course — allows for entries that are less costly or time-consuming to build.

“Everyone is looking forward to the HES/energynet Christmas parade as a huge part of the local holiday tradition,” Tab Brockman, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, said in a press release. “The floats, bands, golf carts, businesses and clubs all enter fabulous units that turn downtown into a brilliant display of lights and sounds. It’s even more special this year since we are honoring those who have led the battle again COVID as our Grand Marshals.”

Cash prizes will be presented for the traditional floats and golf carts. WKDZ/WHVO is back in 2021 to sponsor the “People’s Choice Award,” presented to the most popular float as voted on by the public.

The HES/energynet Night Christmas Parade will wrap a fantastic holiday weekend in Hoptown as the Community Christmas Tree Lighting takes place at Founders Square on December 10 at 6 p.m. The popular Skating On the Square will return for a two-day run on the ice December 11-12, also at Founders Square. The Farmers Holiday Market will also take place on the same Saturday.

For more information on the HES/energynet Christmas please contact Hopkinsville Parks and Recreation at 270-887-4290.

CCHD reports no new COVID-19 deaths; cases up from last several weeks
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The Christian County Health Department announced no new COVID-19 related deaths this week, but shared that the number of new cases this week is up considerably from the last few weeks.

According to the CCHD, the total cases for the county have moved to 10,896 as of Friday.

The county has seen an increase of cases by 133 since last week, on Nov. 5. The previous week saw an increase of 72 between Nov. 5 and Oct. 29.

While the week prior saw an increase of 74 between Oct. 22 and Oct. 29, revealing that this week’s number of new cases is an increase compared to the previous constant rate of between 70 — 75 new cases each week for the several prior weeks.

Of the 10,896 total cases, 195 of them are currently active cases, up from 170 since last week. Meanwhile, 10,565 cases have recovered from the virus.

Within the currently active cases, 57 are people aged zero to 21, 109 are between 22 and 59 and 28 are 60 to 84. There is currently one active case for ages 85 and older as of this week.

Of the 133 new cases this week, CCHD did not share how many are considered breakthrough cases. Breakthrough cases mean that individuals who have been vaccinated have tested positive for the coronavirus. Last week breakthrough cases consisted of 7% of active cases.

The demographic breakdown of the new cases contracted this week is as follows: 30 are pediatric cases, while 90 of the new cases are white, 28 are Black and 15 are unknown.

This week the health department did give updated data on the number of vaccinations administered this week compared to last.

CCHD has administered 14,857 first doses of the Moderna vaccine, 13,739 second doses of Moderna, 270 third doses and 1,495 Moderna booster shots.

As for Pfizer, the department has given 358 first doses, 374 second doses, 108 third doses and 44 Pfizer booster shots.

Finally, for Johnson and Johnson, CCHD has administered 993 doses and 20 Johnson and Johnson booster shots.

The health department has now begun administering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to children as of this week.

CCHD began offering Pfizer vaccines to children aged between 5 — 11, on Wednesday, Nov. 17. This week the department has administered 26 total pediatric Pfizer vaccines.

The department will continue accepting both walk-ins and appointments for Pfizer COVID vaccines for children every Wednesday from 7:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

While walk-ins are available, CCHD encourages parents to schedule appointments in order to avoid long wait times at the department.

To schedule an appointment online, go to http://ow.ly/vLBJ50GJvB0.

Also on Nov. 17, Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order that qualifies any individual aged 18 or older who live or work in Kentucky for a booster dose of COVID vaccines.

The health department will continue to offer COVID vaccines, including Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, to anyone aged 12 and up on Tuesday and Thursdays from 7:45 a.m to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

CCHD clarified that it will not be accepting walk-ins or appointments for anyone under the age of 12 on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The department will be offering vaccines to anyone between 5 and 11 on Wednesdays only.

Janssen, more commonly known as Johnson & Johnson, booster doses are available to individuals aged 18 and up 2 months after the completion of the initial series.

CCHD added that while the department prefers individuals to receive a booster from the same product as their initially completed vaccine series, if that product is not available or another product is preferred, boosting with a single dose of any authorized COVID-19 vaccine boosters is acceptable.

In other words, you can now mix vaccine products. So, if an individual completed their initial series with Moderna, that individual may now receive a Pfizer shot if preferred or Moderna is out of stock.

CCHD reiterated what medical conditions are considered underlying health conditions that put individuals at increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection. Those include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic lung disease (including COPD, asthma, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heat conditions
  • HIV infection
  • Immunocompromised state
  • Liver disease
  • Overweight or obese
  • Pregnancy or recently pregnant people
  • Sickle cell disease of thalassemia
  • Smoking, current or former
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
  • Substance abuse disorders

The health department will continue hosting drive thru testing at the health department Monday through Thursday from 7:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

As previously reported by the New Era, CCHD believes the majority of the new cases are due to the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

CCHD recommends that everyone follow the COVID safety precautions that were implemented previously when the county was in red.

Those include frequent hand washing, avoiding large social gatherings, especially among people who have not been vaccinated and wearing a mask for additional protection, especially indoors.

Forgotten Angels to benefit local residents
  • Updated

The Pennyrile Area Development District is seeking individuals to help fulfill the Christmas wishes for residents of Better Senior Living and other personal care homes in the region.

“These residents are kind of set aside by society, and they may not have friends or family that remember them at Christmas,” observed Cindy Tabor, the district’s long-term care ombudsman who each year coordinates the agency’s Forgotten Angels Project.

Tabor noted that the residents of personal care homes are usually younger than nursing home residents and sometimes suffer with mental illness rather than physical limitations.

“We focus on this group of residents because they seem to be most forgotten by friends, family and society,” Tabor explained in a letter written to the sponsors of the project.

Supporters of the annual project are asked to drop by the PADD office at 300 Hammond Drive in Hopkinsville and take an angel off the tree that for safety precautions has been placed in the outer lobby of the office.

Individuals may also call or email the PADD office to have an angel sent to them.

Each angel includes a wish of a $25 value or less from a personal care home resident.

Additionally, donors may provide stocking stuffers such as board games, playing cards, gloves, scarves, throws and snacks including raisins, trail mix, pretzels, popcorn and sodas.

“Many people load a large Christmas bag of these extra goodies along with the personal wish requested and return it to the PADD office,” Tabor noted of the stocking stuffers.

After a year and a half that Tabor described as unforgettable, she said it’s time to get back to joy, and Tabor finds joy in the giving.

Each year Forgotten Angels fulfills Christmas wishes for residents at seven personal care homes in the Pennyrile region, including two facilities each in Hopkinsville and Madisonville, one in Princeton and another in Central City, in addition to Better Senior Living in Cadiz.

Tabor said the Cadiz facility has 40 residents who will benefit from the project this year, among a total 400 in all seven facilities who will receive gifts through Forgotten Angels.

She said individuals participating in this year’s project should return items to the PADD office by Dec. 15. Anyone who can’t drop off the items may call Tabor at 370-886-9484 or email her at cindy.tabor@ky.gov.

The gifts should be unwrapped.

Donations may also be monetary.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.