As recent state mandates continue to affect the commonwealth, Hopkins County officials provide recommendations to citizens on how to safely support the community. They did so during Madisonville’s weekly COVID update via Facebook Live.
This week, Judge Executive Jack Whitfield was joined by Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton and Mortons Gap Mayor Chris Phelps to talk about how coronavirus has affected the county.
Hopkins County currently has 55 active cases of COVID-19, according to data provided by the Hopkins County Health Department.
Two new cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total amount of confirmed cases in the county to 376. In total, 287 citizens have recovered while 34 deaths have been attributed to the virus.
In Kentucky, 619 new cases and five deaths were reported on Wednesday, according to the office of Gov. Andy Beshear.
Since the pandemic began earlier this year, Kentucky has had 28,727 cases and 724 deaths related to the virus in total. The commonwealth currently has a 5.81% testing positive rate.
Last week, Beshear released new limitations on private in-person gatherings with the capacity now at 10 people. Venues with proper cleaning procedures, such as those for weddings, are still able to operate in a 50-person capacity.
Whitfield said he received confirmation from the health department that many cases from the county have been linked to those attending family gatherings. Whitfield urged those to remain compliant with Beshear’s new limitation.
Earlier this month, Beshear also enacted a 30-day order for mandatory facial coverings in public. During Monday’s briefing, Beshear indicated that the order, which expires Aug. 9, will most likely be renewed.
Businesses in noncompliance with the facial covering mandate will be issued citations by the health department. The Hopkins County Health Department has set up a hotline for those to report noncompliant businesses. To report a business, leave a message at 270-821-5242, extension 258.
While mandatory facial covering is a controversial topic, Cotton encouraged citizens to be respectful of businesses at this time.
“We need our businesses, and our businesses need your help. Don’t get upset with the business if they’re being mandated to ask you to wear a mask,” Cotton said. “That business still needs your support more now than ever.”
Since Tuesday, Kentucky’s restaurants, which were formerly able to open indoor dining at 50% capacity, have been reduced to serving 25% indoor capacity for the next two weeks, according to an executive order by Beshear. There is no limitation on outdoor dining as long as social distancing measures can be followed.
Phelps acknowledged that Mortons Gap has a few locally owned restaurants, which will be impacted by Beshear’s order.
“These rollbacks of capacities will affect those businesses adversely,” Phelps said.
For example, one restaurant in Mortons Gap, Sissy’s Cafe, was only able to seat approximately 11 people inside for dining during the 33% capacity limit, Phelps said. With the capacity limit decreasing to 25%, Sissy’s Cafe will have even less room available for inside dining.
Phelps said he encourages citizens to support local businesses via the take-out option if in-person dining is not available.
Many local restaurants, including Sissy’s Cafe, are offering curbside service. Since there is no capacity limit on outdoor dining, several restaurants are also looking into providing more outside seating, Phelps said.
Beshear’s new capacity limit will also impact restaurant staffing and wait times, according to Cotton. Citizens should try to be compassionate and patient if service is slower than usual, Cotton said.
“Please understand that everyone is just trying to get through this together, and we need your help to make that happen,” Cotton said.
In related news, city and county officials announced:
• Madisonville City Pool is closed for now while some repairs are made, Cotton said. There is an issue with the water pump that is currently being resolved, he said. Additional updates, such as a possible date for reopening, will be made on the city of Madisonville’s Facebook page.
• Online registration is now open until Friday, Aug. 7, for those in the Hopkins County school district. Registration is encouraged to be completed online via an Infinite Campus Parent Portal account, but families can also register in person at kiosks at certain locations and dates. For more information, visit http://www.hopkins.kyschools.us/ OnlineRegistration. Online registration is also available for those in Dawson Springs Independent Schools. Parents can visit the school website at https://dawsonsprings.kyschools.us and click on Parent and Student Portal to start the process.