BOYD & GREENUP COUNTIES, KY (WOWK) — The COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to surge again around the Tri-State.
It’s leading to renewed concern in the Bluegrass State as health officials try to get more people vaccinated.
COVID-19 is not done in eastern Kentucky. In fact, it’s getting worse.
“As the restrictions started to ease and people stopped wearing masks and people started gathering in larger groups, and school was out, we saw a large increase—an exponential increase—in the number of cases here in our local area,” says Chris Crum, public health director for the Greenup County Health Department.
The Kentucky Coronavirus Monitoring Dashboard shows eastern Kentucky counties as being in the yellow and orange categories—meaning there is community spread or accelerated spread happening.
In Greenup County, this is certainly the case.
“We were averaging around 20 cases a week, and all of a sudden, over the last two weeks it just keeps doubling up, and so now we’re already back up to 50 cases this week,” Crum says.
A similarly troubling trend is happening in neighboring Boyd County.
“Monday we had nine total cases, and then today—assuming I don’t get any more cases—will be 29, so that was an increase of 20 cases from Monday…We have 106 total cases, new cases, in July so far… In June just to give you a point of reference we had 75 total cases…It’ll probably be close to over 120 by the time we get to the end of July,” says Erin Crace, nurse administrator for the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department.
Also, complicating matters is the fact that vaccination rates have declined dramatically, too.
“If you said declined, that wouldn’t even do it justice. I would say it’s just completely dropped off. We’ve had numerous days where we don’t have anyone on our open schedule for vaccines,” Crace says.
“It went from ‘we’re filling all the spots’ to where we couldn’t fill any of the slots,” Crum says.
Boyd County has around 36% of its total population vaccinated according to Crace, and Greenup County is also in the mid-30s according to Crum.
That is a far cry from the numbers needed to reach herd immunity, and health officials urge even vaccinated individuals to continue to take precautions to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
“There are mutations, new variants, and as they’re studying the coverage on them it’s good to make sure that you continue to do your precautions,” says Leslie Boardman, R.N., with Greenup County Health Department.
Health officials are also urging people to get themselves and any eligible children vaccinated, especially before the school year starts up again, to curb the rapidly rising case numbers.