Hopkins County is now a “hotbed” — and in this case, that’s not good.
Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. used that word Tuesday to describe the coronavirus outbreak in the county. The confirmed number of positive cases had its biggest one-day jump so far, from 17 to 26.
“There are more,” Whitfield said during a Facebook Live briefing. He expects that number to increase as test results arrive for people still in quarantine.
A member of the Charleston Volunteer Fire Department has tested positive for the virus, according to a Facebook post. The unidentified man and his family are now in quarantine.
“There are multiple cases in the Dawson (Springs) and Charleston area,” the department’s post said. It added the fire department patient had direct contact with the 77-year-old man with the virus who died last week.
The death count in Hopkins County from COVID-19 remained at two Tuesday night. Gov. Andy Beshear still has not announced the most recent death during his late-afternoon briefing. But Tuesday was the deadliest day statewide thus far, with seven victims bringing the total to 18.
A Hopkins County company announced a major change Tuesday to help medical workers dealing with COVID-19. Carhartt is adjusting its production line to make personal protective equipment.
“On Monday... Carhartt will begin producing 50,000 medical gowns,” said a statement from the company’s headquarters in Michigan. “On April 20, the company will begin manufacturing 2.5 million masks.”
It’s not clear exactly how many of those items will be made at the Hanson plant. But a Kentucky Carhartt executive called the sudden changeover “a bit chaotic.”
Whitfield thanked Warrior Coal Tuesday for promising to provide protective masks. The mine is closed for two more weeks because of disruptions resulting from the virus.
Emergency Management Director Nick Bailey said Hopkins County first responders are “doing OK” when it comes to protective gear.
“The hospital hasn’t been screaming for anything yet,” Bailey added.
A scheduled Hopkins County Fiscal Court budget meeting Tuesday wound up as a three-person discussion about the impact of COVID-19.
“The revenue side is going to change,” said magistrate Hannah Myers, who chairs the county budget committee. She had a “conversation I thought we needed to have” with Whitfield and county treasurer Tracy Browning.
Myers said the net profit tax and occupational tax areas are most likely to take a hit.
“How much and the extent is not known,” Myers said. “It’s such a liquid situation.”
The county still plans to hold its first reading on a fiscal 2021 budget in May.
In other developments Tuesday related to COVID-19:
• Hopkins County School Supt. Dr. Deanna Ashby said the last day of classes will be “not past May 15, to the best of my knowledge.” School buildings are closed until at least the end of April. Beshear said a shutdown for the year is “not beyond the realm of possibility.”
• the Madisonville Public Works Department announced its Sanitation Transfer Station will close to the public at 3:30 p.m. today. Regular trash collection will continue.
• the city of Madisonville closed its dog parks and disc golf courses as a health precaution.
• the Madisonville Police Department posted a new warning about coronavirus scams. “At this time, there are no authorized home test kits,” the Facebook post said.
• next Monday’s scheduled Madisonville City Council meeting was canceled. Myers said next Tuesday’s Fiscal Court meeting might be conducted via video conference.
• gas prices kept dropping in Madisonville, as fewer people drive and more stay home. One station on East Center Street sold regular unleaded for $1.39 a gallon.