Mayor Kevin Cotton said the city of Madisonville is moving forward with its plans to open the City Park pool on Monday. Two spray parks in town — one at the City Park and another at Dr. Festus Claybon Park — will also open Monday.
Cotton said Gov. Andy Beshear had first said public pools would be a no-go this summer because of concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic but has since “given the green light” to open pools.
He added that officials have said being outside is better than being cooped up inside and the pool gives the community a place to cool off.
“We will have some folks concerned about it,” Cotton said, and it is the citizens’ personal responsibility to protect their families as they see fit. “We look forward to a good summer.”
Guidance from Denise Beach, the public health director for Hopkins County Health Department, and from officials at Baptist Health will be accepted.
“We will be watching,” Cotton said.
Beach confirmed Friday that the county has had five children test positive for COVID-19 this week.
“We are still continuing to see an uptick,” Beach said. “We are concerned.”
Environmentalists at the health department have inspected the pools as they usually would when pools open.
Beach suggested that parents make sure their children are staying six feet away from people who live outside of their own home. Chairs need to be six feet apart all around. Guests should not share items, including towels, equipment or toys. Hand-washing is very important, especially before you eat or drink. Swimmers should continue to not touch their faces. If a resident is feeling feverish, has a loss of taste or smell and has respiratory symptoms, they should stay home.
In Kentucky, as of Friday, there are 14,859 total cases and 553 deaths. Beshear announced 256 new cases and 7 new deaths on Friday.
In Hopkins County, as of Friday morning, there are 240 cases with 33 deaths; 189 recovered. At the beginning of June, Hopkins County had 219 cases and 30 deaths; 181 recovered.
To prepare the pool for opening, city workers have done annual maintenance needed and have looked at the governor’s guidelines to keep the pool “safe and sanitized,” Cotton said.
Jeff Duvall, the park’s director, will keep the restrooms and tables sanitized at various times throughout the day and has come up with a process to check-out chairs at the pool, the mayor said.
Duvall previously told The Messenger that hand sanitizer will be available at different areas around the pool including the concession stand, main entrance and select tables.
Signs to inform patrons of social distancing and new guidelines were not posted at the pool at 3 p.m. Friday but were expected to be up prior to the opening.
The pool is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children. Although typical pool capacity is 150, Duvall has previously stated that the maximum capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic as mandated by the state is 89.
Chairs and tables will be spaced six to eight feet apart to adhere to social distancing requirements.
Matt Sills, the aquatics and facilities supervisor for the parks, outlined specifically what the park staff is doing to prepare for the pool’s opening.
The number of people allowed in the gate will be 89. Bathrooms, ladders and tables will be cleaned and disinfected several times an hour, Sills said. Pool chairs will have to be checked out and will be sanitized between uses.
The Snack Shack will be open and staffed by lifeguards not on duty. When handling food and money, the guards will wear gloves and masks. When on duty, they will not wear masks, Sills.
“We are excited to welcome people back,” Sills said. He added that if the staff has to make an adjustment following the first few days of opening, they would do so.
In preparation for public pools reopening across the state, Baptist Health Madisonville published a series of tips for patrons approved by Dr. Kristin Wickham, a family medicine physician with Baptist Health.
The recommendations are as follows:
• “Wash hands often and cover coughs and sneezes.
• Wear a mask when possible.
• Practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
• Do not share personal objects such as goggles, nose clips, and toys such as floats.
• Bring your own supplies, such as hand sanitizer, for proper hygiene.
• If you’re showing signs of the virus or any illness, be sure to stay at home.”
Beshear allowed pools to open on June 29, the same day he allowed gatherings of 50 or less to commence, likely indoor gatherings.
The YMCA has opened its pool to small classes. The pool at Dawson Springs City Park will not open this summer and Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park’s plans for its pool has not yet been announced.
• Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander announced Friday that on Monday the state will resume visitation at assisted living and personal care homes, group activities with 10 or fewer in facilities, communal dining and off-site appointments. On July 15, visitation will resume in nursing homes.
• Also on Friday, the Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said a cloud of dry and dusty air that started over the Sahara Desert will be in the southern United States this weekend and into next week. He said there will be poor air quality and wearing masks will help protect Kentuckians from inhaling the dust. He suggested checking the air quality before spending a lot of time outside. Residents can check the air quality at airnow.gov.
Rachel Smith, an intern for The Messenger, contributed to this report.