It may be only a matter of time before the coronavirus reaches Hopkins County. But as of Tuesday afternoon, that time was not yet.
“The testing is starting to roll back in,” Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton said during a mid-morning Facebook Live update. While no COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Hopkins County at that time, he added the first case is “expected” this week.
“Those cases are coming. We know they’re going to,” Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. added.
The virus reached neighboring Webster County Monday evening, with a 77-year-old man confirmed to have tested positive.
“The gentleman has been quarantined, as well as those that... had contact with him,” said a Facebook message from Webster County Emergency Management.
Whitfield told a Facebook commenter that in Hopkins County as of Tuesday morning, “there were 20-25 tests in process.” That number can change often, as new tests are submitted while results from others come back.
Governor Andy Beshear said late Tuesday that 163 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Webster County case was not included in that number. The Kentucky Health Cabinet reported the number of tests statewide jumped by more than 1,100 Tuesday, to 3,022.
“We have one person who tested positive at a coronavirus party,” Governor Andy Beshear said at an afternoon briefing. “This is one that makes me mad.”
Beshear noted the number of new cases Tuesday was a one-day high of 39. Because of that, he said all “non-life-sustaining” businesses must end walk-in service by Thursday night. A complete list should come out today, but Beshear indicated law offices will close.
A white tent was set up Tuesday at the back door of Baptist Health Urgent Care on North Main Street, which has been handling COVID-19 screenings. Whitfield said the tent will be used for drive-thru screenings.
“It’s like all the hospitals,” Whitfield said. When it opens, service will be available for people “if they have symptoms.”
An opening date was unclear Tuesday night. A call to Baptist Health Madisonville was not returned.
Hopkins County Sheriff Matt Sanderson joined Tuesday’s local report, and said that Kentucky National Guard personnel might start appearing in or around hospital buildings.
“They’re creating schedules,” Sanderson said after talking to Kentucky State Police Post Commander David Archer. “It’s not going to be... an overwhelming presence; other than maybe one or two here or there.”
Local officials have emphasized the National Guard would serve in support roles.
In other developments Tuesday related to COVID-19:
• promoters of “Real ID” licenses in Kentucky announced President Trump has delayed the date when they will be required for boarding airliners or visiting military bases. The implementation date had been Thursday, Oct. 1. No new date was announced.
• the city of Madisonville resumed curbside collection of recycled items. But a Facebook statement said items in the containers will be “disposed of with traditional garbage to lessen the human contact of having to sort recycled items.
• White Plains city officials announced they will reduce to a four-day workweek, with City Hall closed on Wednesdays and a “skeleton crew” in the office on other days.
• Nortonville Mayor Scott Harvey announced that the $25 fee to reinstate water service will be waived throughout March. No service will be disconnected due to non-payment.
• Madisonville Police canceled the youth football skills camp which was scheduled for Saturday, April 25.
• Whitfield said that in response to a request from the governor, the bells atop the old courthouse will play “My Old Kentucky Home” every day at 10 a.m.