There’s a virus going around Hopkins County. But at this moment, it’s not the coronavirus.
New statistics from the Kentucky Department for Public Health show Hopkins County had a jump in confirmed flu cases last week. In fact, only two counties in the commonwealth had more.
An online summary shows 131 flu cases were verified in the week of March 8-14. None were confirmed in the prior week.
The spike puts Hopkins County’s flu count for the season at 168. The only surrounding county with a number close to that is Muhlenberg County at 67.
Yet Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton said Friday that Hopkins County still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“I think we have done a great deal in slowing that tide,” said Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield, Jr. during an appearance with Cotton on WTTL Radio Friday.
Hopkins County Health Director Denise Beach did not respond to a phone call seeking more details. The Kentucky COVID-19 website has removed maps showing county-by-county case and test numbers.
Gov. Andy Beshear reported late Friday that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide is up to 63, including new cases in Calloway and Henderson counties. Two deaths have been confirmed in Kentucky.
The jump in Hopkins County flu cases may complicate efforts to evaluate coronavirus cases. The Centers for Disease Control website says fever and a cough are symptoms of both illnesses. One major difference is that COVID-19 patients often have shortness of breath, while the CDC says flu patients do not.
Yet the recommendations for preventing flu and COVID-19 are similar. The CDC suggests limited contact with other people, regular handwashing and no touching of the face.
Kentucky has confirmed almost 26,000 flu cases this season, blamed for 99 deaths.
Cotton also announced Friday that the Hopkins County Regional Senior Activity Center will begin “drive-up” food service Monday for people who need it. Meals will be offered five days a week from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
The senior center remains closed on orders from the governor as a health precaution. The new service will be in addition to home delivery of meals.
The senior center is part of Pennyrile Allied Community Services. That agency’s most recent annual report shows it delivered 42,990 meals to homes last fiscal year in a nine-county region which includes Hopkins County.
In other developments Friday related to COVID-19:
• Beshear recommended all public schools remain closed until Monday, April 20. Hopkins County schools already were closed through the end of spring break on Friday, April 10. Supt. Deanna Ashby promised high school seniors will have a graduation ceremony at some point.
• Whitfield announced two Hopkins County convenience centers will have reduced hours. The Ashbyburg center will be open only on Tuesdays, while the Dalton center will be open only on Saturdays. Other centers remain open as usual.
• Cotton said the Health Department is in need of masks, face shields and gloves. Donations can be left at City Hall.
• Cotton also announced the city will divide its workers into two rotating crews to handle service issues. City Clerk Kim Blue said they will work on a week-on, week-off basis.
• Madisonville Police advised on Facebook that people requesting an officer will be asked if they have “flu-like symptoms.” Fees for police reports are being waived for the time being.
• Hopkins County Tourism Director Tricia Noel said the Southern Women’s Show in Nashville next weekend has been canceled. The county planned to have a booth there. Noel said the $1,300 booth fee has been rolled over to the 2021 event.