Many people have blamed the COVID-19 outbreak on China. Now a city in China is helping Madisonville fight it.

Sister city Dongying, China is shipping 9,000 masks to Madisonville, an important go-between announced Thursday.

“We are expecting those masks to arrive in Madisonville around May 10,” Nan Nance of The Learning Center said during the daily Facebook Live briefing.

Madisonville and Dongying have had a sister city relationship since 2012. A group of students from China spent a week in Hopkins County last summer.

Nance said Dongying mayor Zhiyuan Zhao reached out to Madisonville first, by emailing her and expressing concern Friday, March 13. That was two weeks before any coronavirus cases in Hopkins County were confirmed.

A second email from Zhao went to Mayor Kevin Cotton Thursday, April 2. Cotton asked if Dongying had any connections with suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE).

That led to a follow-up message from a Chinese Foreign Affairs Office Wednesday, April 15 offering PPE. In some places, that’s controversial. Wisconsin state health officials turned down some Chinese mask donations, claiming they were not hospital-grade.

But Nance said Cotton signed a donation agreement Tuesday, April 21. She noted the masks are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Those masks need document processing and inspection,” Nance said, so Chinese customs rules are delaying the shipment.

Cotton said once those 9,000 masks arrive, Hopkins County will have about 45,000 masks, 3,500 KN-95 surgical masks, 2,500 hospital gowns and 2,400 shoe covers.

Dongying is located about 650 miles north of Wuhan, the Chinese city considered the source of the pandemic. Exactly how it began is turning into an international investigation.

Only three new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Hopkins County Thursday. April ended with 205 positive cases, 81 patients recovered and 22 people killed. When April began, the county had 28 confirmed cases and no deaths.

State records show Wednesday’s most recent COVID-19 death occurred at Ridgewood Terrace Nursing Home. That makes 15 residents who have died there, out of 59 who tested positive.

The number of positive tests among staff members increased to 21 at Ridgewood Terrace and four at Hillside Villa Care and Rehabilitation. A third nursing home with a case, mentioned by Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach earlier this week, still has not been posted by the state.

Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. said 15 positive cases have been confirmed from last week’s mass testing at Madisonville North Hopkins High School. But he indicated final results from that have yet to arrive.

In other developments Thursday related to COVID-19:

• the Health Department urged people who have not received results from last week’s testing to call 1-877-852-2677 or 1-888-852-2567. They also can check online at The

• the Kentucky Department of Public Health reported no new influenza cases last week in Hopkins County. That total remains at 171 for the season. Only seven were reported statewide, putting that total at 27,407.

• the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce announced a promotion to prepare for the reopening of retail businesses Wednesday, May 20. People who spend $100 at chamber businesses from now until Saturday, May 9 will receive a $10 Chamber check.

• Dawson Springs Police closed the entrance to Dairy Queen on Industrial Park Road, so drive-through traffic doesn’t stretch onto the road. The main entrance on U.S. 62 remains open, with drivers going in front of the restaurant.

• Madisonville’s Marketing Director Sara Lutz said the local Facebook Live briefings are getting as many as 30,000 views per day. More than 1,000 people regularly watch them live.

• the Hopkins County Madisonville Public Library invited people to submit writing, art and pictures to build a “community living history” of the pandemic. Details can be found by searching for “community history” on the library’s website.

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