The Christian County Health Department hosted a media conference call with several of the community’s leaders to urge Christian County residents to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and help the county get out of the red zone.

The meeting occurred just hours before CCHD announced yet another COVID-19-related death in the county.

In a press release, CCHD announced the county’s 39th COVID-related death, sharing that the deceased was a 94-year-old white female who had underlying health conditions.

CCHD Spokesperson Amanda Sweeney began the meeting by describing the rates at which Christian County is increasing in COVID positive cases.

“If we look at our numbers from Nov. 1 to the 18th — so looking at the beginning of November until (Wednesday) — we’re seeing an increase of about 29 cases per day,” Sweeney said. “If we keep on that trend, then from now and until the end of November, we’re looking at a potential 875 cases for the month of November and I believe that’s about a 27% increase from last month.”

Sweeney continued to share that the increase of cases is affecting the public health system throughout the entire county and asks the public to consider public health workers and protect each other from the virus.

She said that while it’s taking a toll on the entire health system, CCHD’s contact tracers are currently able to keep up with the demand of the job, but if cases continue to increase at the rates that they are, those contact tracers may not be able to keep up.

Sweeney said that once an individual is confirmed positive for the coronavirus, contact tracers begin an extensive investigation as well as provide the positive individual with guidelines.

“Right now, I told you that we have about 378 active cases and if each case count has 10 direct contacts, that could potentially be about 3,780 individuals that we have to contact in most of those cases,” Sweeney said. “We’ve been fortunate to have additional help from the state with our contact tracers, but with these sharp rising numbers that we’ve seen, that team has even stretched and we’ve had to pull in additional health department staff to help with that to make sure we manage the program.”

She added that because of that demand, CCHD has had to pull staff from other health department areas, such as the clinic, environment program and health education program.

CCHD is not the only local department that the pandemic has taken a toll on.

Jennie Stuart Health’s Beth McCraw explained that the pandemic has caused an increase in hospital admissions.

“Oct. 11th is when we really reached our highest number of COVID positive patients that had been admitted and that was 24 patients,” she said. “Over the last couple of weeks we’ve started to see the admissions increase again. We have had as high as 29 COVID positive patients in the hospital since Nov. 11th.

“We have a constant influx of patients, it’s a constant turn — either they’re being admitted or they’re being discharged.”

McCraw continued to share that the hospital has seen a trend over the last seven months of an increased number of people coming into the emergency room that are very sick, whether they have the coronavirus or not.

She added that because of the pandemic, she believes some people may not be continuing their regular treatment out of concern for COVID, creating other problems that causes them to need to go to the hospital.

“We have seen over the past several months, both our non-critical care and critical care areas just having increased hospitalized patients that require longer lengths of stay and again, that’s either COVID or non-COVID,” McCraw said. “But, that does create that additional stress and increase the amount of patients within our facility.”

Public Health Director Kayla Bebout asked during the conference call that local businesses also do their part in requiring masks when patrons enter their businesses and enforce the mask mandate.

She added that CCHD has been able to cite some businesses that have not complied with the mandate, but the department does not have enough staff to check every business throughout the county for compliance.

Local leaders Christian County Judge-Executive Steve Tribble, Hopkinsville Mayo Wendell Lynch and Oak Grove Mayor Therese Jarvis all made similar requests to the public, asking Christian County residents to their part in wearing masks, social distance and follow all COVID-related guidelines to help slow the spread and to get the county out of the red zone.

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