The Christian County Health Department reported Wednesday 39 new COVID-19 cases. The county currently has 378 active cases.

As the virus spikes for a third time this year, and Gov. Andy Beshear has implemented new closures, the health department released data showing the strain that the virus has on hospitals.

On Wednesday, the health department announced the highest daily cases ever in the county.

“According to the state’s incidence reporting system, Christian County has consistently stayed in the red over the last several weeks and currently has an incidence rate of 40.3 meaning we are increasing on average of 40.3 cases each day over the last seven days,” Amanda Sweeney, CCHD instructional design and marketing specialist, said. “Our COVID-19 caseloads are at an all-time high in our county, and the increase in numbers is putting a strain on our healthcare system, especially Jennie Stuart Health, the Christian County Health Department, and Hopkinsville Fire and EMS.”

She added that every COVID-19 cases requires “an extensive epidemiological investigation process that is conducted by health department staff.”

For instance, if the health department has 351 active cases, that means, Sweeney said, the health department has to contact 351 people as well as their direct contacts.

“If each positive case has 10 direct contacts, we are essentially working with 3,510 people at one time,” she said.

If cases continue to rise, the health department may have to scale back normal services to allow staff to trace COVID-19 contacts.

The Hopkinsville Fire Department said in a Facebook post that October was its busiest month ever.

“Since COIVD tracking began on March 6, 2020, the Hopkinsville Fire Department has encountered 415 COVID positive or suspected patients.” Steve Futrell, Hopkinsville Fire and EMS chief, said. “It is important to note that as surprising as these numbers are, they are also on the rise.”

He added that logistics are more complicated for COVID-19 patients and the department’s resources are stretched thin to adapt to the virus.

Those increases in EMS calls leads to an increase in hospital numbers.

“The emergency department patient visits have continued to increase to pre-COVID numbers over the past 7 months,” Beth McCraw, Jennie Stuart Health vice president of nursing and clinical services and chief nursing officer, said. “The trend that we have seen with our emergency department is patients’ illness is more severe requiring hospitalization.”

She added that patients are more sick than normal, either with COVID-19 or from not visiting their primary care physician during the pandemic.

Although the majority of patients are recovering from the virus, complications can linger.

“Many of our COVID positive patients are seeing ongoing complications related to their previous COVID infection and return to the hospital for additional treatment,” McCraw said. “These patients are no longer considered infectious, however, they continue to have ongoing shortness of breath, lingering pneumonia, pulmonary embolisms, and decreased lung capacity.”

Sweeney urged local residents to continue to wear masks and follow healthy at home guidelines.

“Whether we can see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel” is really up to our community,” she said. “… We are not asking to take away the community’s rights, we are asking the community to help us reduce cases so that we can ensure we all have access to effective, timely healthcare.”

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