Healthcare leaders in Hopkins County are pushing for the public to take part in flu vaccinations for this coming influenza season.
“It is very important that everyone get a flu shot this year,” said Denise Beach, director of the Hopkins County Health Department.
Beach said individuals can get a flu shot all the way through influenza season, which tends to be January through March, however, Beach said there have been flu cases documented as early as September before.
With the COVID-19 outbreak still going on, Beach said it is even more important to get a flu shot now.
“We are concerned we will have a flu outbreak at the same time that the COVID outbreak is still going on,” she said. “We are worried about hospital capacity and medical provider capacity if that happens.”
Beach also talked about the possibility of being infected with the flu and COVID at the same time.
“It would be the perfect storm,” she said.
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, according to Dr. Wayn Lipson, the cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon and chief medical officer at Baptist Health Madisonville.
“The flu shot is important because it is like wearing a mask to help keep us from getting COVID we take our flu shot just like we wear our masks, to protect ourselves but we also want to protect everyone else,” Lipson said, adding that the vaccine takes about two weeks to be effective, and that someone could still get the flu during that two week time period.
However, Lipson said patients that do receive the shot are not as sick if they do catch the flu.
Baptist Health Urgent Care locations have the flu vaccine on hand. Flu shots cost $40 for the basic flu shot and $70 for the high-dose vaccine, which is recommended for those over 65. Clinics located at 1851 North Main in Madisonville and at 1010 Medical Center Drive in Powderly. Scheduled clinics will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sat. Sept 26 and Sat. Oct. 3 go to www.baptisthealth.com/flushot for more information.
On the COVID front, as of Friday morning, Hopkins County reported a total of 579 cases of COVID-19, which is a three case increase from Thursday. The death total remains at 38 with 474 people recovered leaving 67 active cases in the county.
To help fight the spread of COVID, Health First is now traveling to high positive rated areas in the region, and will offer an alternate means of COVID-19 testing by way of a traveling screening unit.
The unit will enhance testing already being offered at Health First clinics located in Calhoun, Clay, Earlington, Henderson, Owensboro, Morganfield, Princeton and Providence, according to Health First COVID Coordinator, Beth Devine.
“By bringing this service directly to the residents, it provides more access to testing and removes barriers such as transportation,” said Devine.
Testing is performed free of charge and is open to all ages. Parental consent is required for those younger than 18, and you do not have to be a county resident to participate.
The testing method is a mouth swab, according to Devine.
“We have done some collaborations with them and have identified pockets of high positivity for COVID and we do recommend if they are in your area as well to go get tested,” Beach said. “They are doing antibody testing and virus testing.”
To see where the unit will rotate to, visit www.healthfirstCHC.net.
Friday was a day full of providing food to those in need in Dawson Springs and Hanson as volunteers from multiple organizations came together to pack cars with food.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Friday morning, the Dawson Springs town square was already backed up with vehicles as Feed America unloaded their last pallet of food for the volunteers to begin handing out.
Food included a box of canned goods and non-perishables, bread, watermelons and bags of potatoes.
“We have several volunteers,” said Hopkins County Magistrate Charlie Beshears, adding that people from Dawson Area Public Service, Landon’s Hope and others were on hand to help.
Beshears said the food was enough to feed around 360 people and was funded by grants through the USDA.
Other organizations like Tyson, AT&T and Humana also contributed in obtaining food, according to Beshears.
Beshears also said vegetables given away were from local farms in an effort to also support local farmers.
The partnership of Landon’s Hope, the Tri-State Food Bank and Feed America has already served other parts of the county including St. Charles, White Plains and Nebo.
On Friday, after serving at Dawson Springs, the group then went to Hanson.
“I think it’s great,” Beshears said. “There are a lot of people that have never been in need before. Some are unemployed. It is our hope that the people in need will come out. We hope it helps a lot of people.”
Tracey McGee was in line at Dawson Springs not to receive but to deliver to others.
McGee works with homebound people performing whatever tasks they need done to help in their day to day life.
“Right now it is a really trying time,” she said. “I think right now it is very needed and people are very appreciative. Everybody needs this right now.”
Earlier this week, the Kentucky Department of Education and Kentucky Department for Public Health announced a new color-coded COVID-19 metric for ranking the risk factors of infections in counties, and those new guidelines have already had an impact on Hopkins County sports.
On Thursday, the Lady Maroons’ soccer program was scheduled to host the Caldwell County Lady Tigers, while the boys were to head to Princeton to face Caldwell on their home field. Both of those games were canceled when Caldwell County was reported as a “red county.”
The new metric ranks counties as green, yellow, orange or red based on the number of active cases per 100,000 residents. In-person classes and sports are allowed in the first three categories, although the KDE recommends remote learning only in orange counties.
If a county crosses into the red group, however, the KDE says that only remote learning is allowed and that sporting events must be canceled. This would include both home and away games.
As of Monday, Caldwell County was reporting 104 cases of COVID-19, with just 17 active cases. Between Monday and Thursday that total jumped by 22, bringing the number of cases to 126, which includes 31 new cases within the last week.
With a population of 12,658, that gives Caldwell County an overall infection rate of 0.99%, and a 0.3% rate of active cases when adding the 22 new cases to the existing 17 known to exist on Monday.
The new metric, however, is based on a seven day rolling average of daily new cases within a county. Despite their relatively low numbers overall, the seven day average of new cases in Caldwell County on Thursday was 31.3 per 100,000 residents.
The metric places any county with a rate above 25 cases per 100,000 as a “red county.” With a seven day rolling average, that number can change fast, with a relatively large or small number of new cases on just one or two days capable of moving a county up or down within the ranking system.
In Hopkins County, for example, the magic number is a daily average of 11 new cases in a seven day period. If that number is reached, that would give the county a per 100,000 rate of 24.6. As of Friday morning the local seven day average was 4.4 cases per day, or 9.84 cases per 100,000. Rounded up to 10, that places Hopkins County in the orange group.
According to Hopkins County Schools Assistant Supt. Marty Cline, the new metric is only a recommendation for the time being. It will not become mandatory until Sept. 28, the day that Gov. Andy Beshear has approved for schools to officially reopen.
“It will be a topic of discussion for our board meeting on Monday night,” said Cline. “This does not become mandatory statewide until the day the governor has allowed schools to begin in-person classes. Our district can choose to go above and beyond.”
Board members will have to decide on Monday if they want to follow this recommendation, or allow athletics to move forward as planned, at least until Sept. 28. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“We have to consider what we’re looking at,” said Cline. “If we were a red county, it would be different. Right now we’re orange. We have to decide if traveling to a red county for sports is worth the risk. As a district, we will most likely err on the side of the safety of our kids.”
As of Friday, 13 counties in Kentucky were red. Those included:
KHSAA recommends that schools look at the county rankings for all the teams on their schedule on Monday of each week. If any team is in a “red county”, schools are urged to cancel any games with them for that week. If the county is green on Monday, but changes to red at any point during the week, schools are urged to cancel any remaining games with them during the week.
Contact Matt Hughes at email@example.com or 270-667-2069