(WEHT) — After the Tri-State’s first confirmed death from COVID-19 in Hopkins County, Kentucky Friday, Health Department Director Denise Beach joined Brad Byrd via Skype for a live interview.
Brad Byrd: As we reported, the Tristate now has its first reported COVID-19 death. The victim was an elderly victim in Hopkins County, and joining us now is Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach live from Madisonville via Skype.
DB: We did have his death yesterday. It was a senior adult with co-morbid conditions, which means that he had other health issues and we do send our condolences to the family at this time. Seniors and others with co-morbid conditions, we just want to advise you to please practice social distancing and realize that you are the at-risk group.
BB: Denise, in addition to this passing, you also have two cases reported in Hopkins County. How many tests are out there right now and the population in Hopkins County is more than 45,000- how many tests are out there? Can you give us an idea of how broad this could be in Hopkins County?
DB: It could be very broad. We know that it’s community acquired now, so we’re no longer worried as much if somebody traveled and so if somebody has symptoms, a fever and lower respiratory illness we ask that they contact their provider especially if they know that they’ve been a contact. We have them quarantined. We have three cases right now and that’s counting the person that died and we have contacted all the contacts of these cases at this time. We got that done late last night.
BB: What do you need for the health providers there- things like test kits, ventilators, face masks- how is that supply coming in?
DB: We’re doing pretty well right now. We’ve gotten a cache of supplies from the Department of Public Health and we’ve been working with emergency management and we’ve been able to supply the hospitals, long term care facilities and EMS and then emergency management has been working with the police officers and other emergency personnel like the fire department and so far we’re doing pretty well on that but we know the need could be large. We have had in the 60s of tests out. It’s a fluid situation because more tests are being done while test results are coming in and so we’re expecting more test results tonight.
BB: Alrighty, and I know you’ll keep us updated on that. Tell me about the people in Hopkins County. We’ve been saying here at Eyewitness News that we’re all impacted by this, we’re all in this together. How are they handling this crisis?
DB: I’m going to say that working with our hospital, EMS, nursing homes, everybody that we’ve worked with, infection control at the hospital, our law enforcement, our judge executive, our mayors, we have had nothing but support so far and we really appreciate our media getting the word out when we need to give an update and we’re trying to keep our community informed. We appreciate their patience, we know that the science is sometimes hard for people to understand that aren’t working in this situation and we just ask them to trust that we are following the CDC guidelines and the department of public health guidelines because contagion is very difficult to follow, but we do follow it exactly as we are instructed to do and so if somebody is a contact, we will contact them, we’ll do whatever it takes to get in touch with them and make sure that they are quarantined and they know that they’ve been a contact of a case.
BB: There have been some calls by the Trump administration and by supporters of the Trump administration that we could possibly get this ramped up as far as our economy by Easter. How do you view that as a director of a health department here in Western Kentucky?
DB: Right now, I’m just working on controlling the curve and flattening out the curve and I really appreciate the support of our governor and Dr. Stack, the commissioner of public health in helping us to do that in the Commonwealth and in my community because I think the next two weeks are really important that we flatten the curve by practicing social distancing and doing what they’re supposed to be doing- not gathering, not having group activity and church, any kind of collective grouping and we really appreciate that everyone will follow those guidelines and help us flatten this curve.
BB: Denise, our thoughts are with you and the great people of Hopkins County Kentucky. Thank you so much for joining us today.
DB: Thank you.
(This story was originally published on March 27, 2020)