New COVID-19 cases within Pulaski – and the entire Lake Cumberland district – have risen yet again, with both seeing the highest number of newly confirmed cases since the coronavirus pandemic began.
According to the Lake Cumberland District Health Department (LCDHD), Pulaski saw 17 new COVID cases in the week ending on July 4, up slightly from the 15 new cases reported the week before.
Over the entire 10-county district, there were 75 newly diagnosed cases, up from 52 new cases the week before.
Pulaski’s current case total is 26, with one being hospitalized and 25 in home-isolation. There have been 86 people recovered and two deaths, for a total of 114 total cases in Pulaski.
As in previous weeks, LCDHD Executive Director Shawn Crabtree said that the public needs to take precautions and preventions seriously now to stem the future tide of cases.
He said that policy changes tend to affect the spread of the virus several weeks later. “If everyone today decided to take the guidelines seriously, it would be three to five weeks before we saw the effects,” Crabtree said.
Here in Pulaski, there have been no large number of cases traced to a single source.
“The largest cluster is travel-related,” he said, meaning most cases are from people traveling outside of Kentucky – usually on vacation – and possibly letting their guards down.
It is true that several of the newest COVID-19 cases were people who worked in local businesses. Two are individuals who work in the restaurant field, two from two separate medical facilities, six tied to out-of-county long-term care facilities, and so forth.
But Crabtree stated that there are no particular clusters of cases within any particular Pulaski business.
“A lot of individual businesses have had a case, but that doesn’t mean it has spread through that business,” he said.
“We’re just not seeing it spread through businesses right now,” he said.
In fact, avoiding specific businesses may not offer any protection from the virus. “If you think that’s how you’re going to protect yourself, it’s not,” Crabtree said.
“The best way to protect yourself is to consider it widespread within the community and to follow the guidelines.”
The 10-county district (Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, Taylor and Wayne counties) has seen the number of new cases grow significantly for the past three weeks, and while Crabtree said cases have not exceeded local medical resources, and extended period of growth could.
He said also he is aware that our area has not been hit as hard as other places. As an example, Crabtree said that 0.2% of our local population has contracted the disease, whereas 20% of New York City has.
“We’ve been 100 times less impacted,” Crabtree said.
But that doesn’t mean local health department officials are having it easy.
“It’s been a lot of work,” he said. With 75 new cases district-wide, that’s 75 case investigations, 75 contact tracings, and 75 more people to check in with daily to chart their health and progress.
LCDHD staff has been stretched thin, Crabtree said. They are currently hiring new contact tracing staff to alleviate the workload.
For as much work as they do, however, Crabtree said, “The community could do far more good than we can do. They have a larger impact than we do on preventing the spread of the virus.”
Crabtree urged the public to continue social distancing by staying at least six feet apart from others, avoiding large crowds, wearing a mask in public, washing their hands often, using sanitizer when washing is not available, not touching their eyes or face, sneezing and coughing into an elbow, and not going out if they feel sick or have a high temperature.