The coronavirus death count in Hopkins County climbed to four Friday. And the Madisonville mayor took more steps to keep weekend shopping from making things worse.
Gov. Andy Beshear said the newest victim is a 76-year-old woman.
Hopkins County Health Director Denise Beach counted 42 confirmed cases in Hopkins County, an increase of nine from Thursday. But she warned the number likely will climb above 50 today.
“My staff is handling multiple positives this morning,” Beach said. “It looks like next week will be a really important week in Hopkins County because of the curve.”
The Messenger learned late Friday that Carhartt in Hanson has a positive case. A union leader has said GE Aviation has at least three.
Mayor Kevin Cotton wants to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus increase. So on Friday, he ordered all retail businesses still open to have a “one person per family” limit beginning today. The only exception is for single-parent families.
“We’ve asked and we’ve begged,” Cotton said.
The new rule applies to big-box stores such as Lowe’s, which is entering its busiest season of the year. Cotton became concerned when he saw ads for a “spring’s Black Friday sale” this weekend, so he talked with the manager.
“There’s only 150 people maximum who will be able to get in there,” Cotton said. Lowe’s has made several donations of personal protective equipment to the city and county since the outbreak began.
Wherever you might shop this weekend, Cotton said this is no time to browse the aisles and risk spreading the virus.
“Get what you need and get out,” Cotton said.
Sheriff Matt Sanderson said Thursday night’s opening of a youth curfew across Hopkins County had no incidents. But Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. hinted an expansion is not out of the question.
“There really doesn’t need to be anybody out after 8 p.m.” Whitfield said, noting most retailers now are closing earlier.
Sanderson advised against “going to friends’ houses, even during the day.”
Even with a COVID-19 unit set up at Baptist Health Madisonville, Beach said Hopkins County does “not have enough for a giant curve.”
An online analysis supports that. The website CovidActNow.org, which has been cited by Beshear, shows the county would have 368 beds available for patients by the end of April.
With “limited action,” the website projects the number of patients could peak at 759 on Saturday, May 9. But a “stay-at-home” program for three months could have a maximum 243 people in hospitals on Wednesday, June 17, even with “poor compliance.”
“ ‘Healthy at home’ is the same as a stay-at-home order,” Cotton said.
“Every other restriction is going to be in place till the end of the month,” Beshear said. “I may need your best in May. Right now, I need your best in April.”
In other developments Friday related to COVID-19:
• Cotton announced all golf courses in Hopkins County would close Friday evening. The course at City Park was closed Monday.
• the Hopkins County Fiscal Court announced Tuesday’s meeting will be conducted via a Zoom video conference. People can watch by using the meeting ID 175 624 395. A recording of the meeting will be posted on Facebook.
• the Salvation Army reported its greatest current need is financial support for serving hot meals to older people.
• Mortons Gap Mayor Chris Phelps announced City Hall will be closed on Fridays beginning next week, and will no longer accept cash payments.