While positive cases of COVID-19 are on the decline, the month of September still proved to be the deadliest month for Hopkins County since the pandemic began in March of 2020. Last month saw 24 Hopkins County residents die from virus related complications, the highest monthly total on record.

Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach said while the numbers are declining, those getting sick are getting very sick.

“Out of the 24 that died in September, we had two vaccinated people die, and they had serious comorbidities, so we had 22 unvaccinated die,” she said. “We had 11 people under age 70, and they were all unvaccinated.”

On Monday, the Health Department reported 178 new COVID-19 cases with a total of 197 deaths in the county.

Beach said the numbers going down is a positive sign, and if people continue to get vaccinated then there will be more positive signs. She said about 50% of the county is vaccinated against COVID-19, which is in line with the state numbers.

Baptist Health reported 25 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Of those, two were vaccinated and 23 of them were unvaccinated. In the Critical Care Unit, there are 11 patients all of them unvaccinated.

Kristy Quinn, the hospital marketing and public relations director, said the numbers at the hospital are staying in the mid-to-high 20s and the CCU is staying steady at around 10 patients or so, which is slightly better than what they were seeing.

“Bed capacity is good at the hospital now that the number of critical COVID patients is declining,” she said. “The strain on the critical care unit when we are full with COVID makes it difficult to have beds for those with other needs that require critical care.”

Beach and Quinn said they are worried about how the holidays will affect the COVID-19 positive numbers.

“Last year we had a huge spike during the holidays for holiday gatherings, so that does really concern me,” said Beach. “I am hoping that we get enough people vaccinated between now and then that the holidays will be a lot nicer this year.”

Quinn added with events back on, people traveling more and moving indoors, they don’t know when the next variant will emerge, what it will look like or how the flu season will add to the mix.

“We are hopeful for a better winter than last year due to vaccinations and the upcoming ability for children to be vaccinated as well,” she said.

Beach encourages unvaccinated family members to get the vaccine so the holidays can be COVID-19 free.

“We have talked about we know this vaccine works, we know it is preventing deaths and serious illness, we know it is reducing the risk of contagion,” she said. “We just need people to get out there and get their vaccine.”

Quinn said while COVID-19 is around, it is still important to receive the annual flu vaccination. Baptist Health is holding drive-thru flu vaccine clinics at the medical offices in Madisonville and Powderly from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and on Saturday, Oct. 23, with regular and high doses available. She said no appointment is needed for those 18 years and older, and the parents of younger patients should talk to their child’s pediatrician.

“There is no required wait time between receiving your COVID vaccine and flu vaccine, so if you have recently received your COVID vaccine, you can still take the flu vaccine as well,” said Quinn.

To make an appointment with the Health Department to get a COVID-19 vaccine, call 270-821-5242 ext. 229.