Kentucky county asks community for help when it comes to contact tracing

Coronavirus in Kentucky

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Thursday, November 12th, Boyd County health officials reported fifty-six new cases in a twenty-four hour period.


BOYD COUNTY, KY (WOWK) — The surge of coronavirus cases in Kentucky is forcing one county to change how it’s handling the pandemic.

Trailers and containers outside of the Ashland-Boyd County-Catlettsburg Office of Emergency Management are full of personal protective equipment—a sign of the rising wave of coronavirus this region is being hit with.

Trailers and containers sit outside of the Ashland-Boyd County-Catlettsburg Office of Emergency Management, full of personal protective equipment. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

“Boyd County is a red county now, along with 90 other counties in the state of Kentucky. 90 out of 120, 75 percent.” 

Matt Anderson, emergency preparedness coordinator, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department

Just this month, they’ve seen 288 cases—an average of 26 cases per day—and officials worry they are on track for 780 cases by the end of the month.

There were 31 cases last Friday, 39 on Tuesday, and 24 on Wednesday alone.

“It’s high, it’s much higher than it was. Probably, I would say on average at least double—three, four times, sometimes higher than what we had seen in the past.” 

Matt Anderson, emergency preparedness coordinator, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department

It’s putting a tremendous strain on the one local hospital, too.

“In the month of October, there were 147 admissions for COVID, and 25 mortalities, at King’s Daughters [Medical Center].” 

Tim England, director of emergency management for Ashland, Boyd County, and Catlettsburg

England says the hospital is at, if not over, it’s capacity to handle the sick.

Tim England, Director of Emergency Management for Ashland, Boyd County, and Catlettsburg, explains how the local hospital has been handling the influx of coronavirus patients. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

Now, the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department has had to significantly increase staff and change some of their protocols to try to curb the spread there.

“We have hired new staff to try to keep up with the cases, so when you’re adding you know 20, 30 cases per day, and 20 or 30 people may have ten, 20, 30 contacts, you’re getting up in the hundreds, maybe even low thousands, of contacts amongst the community and you can’t have five or six or seven or eight people doing that in the course of a workday.” 

Matt Anderson, emergency preparedness coordinator, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department

In addition, the county is asking those who test positive to do their own contact tracing by contacting everyone they’d been around prior to their positive test or onset of symptoms.

The health department is relying on the honor system to try and slow the community spread and keep everyone safe during this surge.

“We’re just asking for cooperation.” 

Matt Anderson, emergency preparedness coordinator, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department

If you live in the area and think you may be infected, health officials are urging you to get tested immediately, and they are urging everyone to continue to take all precautions to protect yourself and loved ones this holiday season.

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