Pandemic not ‘over’ in Boyle County

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Boyle County has subsided, but the pandemic is still lurking.

As of Tuesday afternoon Boyle’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 2.9%, said Boyle County Health Department Director Brent Blevins.

“It’s based on a seven-day rolling average. We have had seven cases in the last seven days,” he said.

The state’s positivity rate was 2.08%.

“The trend is we will have several days in a row with no or few cases and then have a couple of days in a row with more cases,” Blevins added. “I think we are in the later stages of the pandemic where we still have cases, but we’re not ‘over’ it. My guess is we will have covid cases ongoing the same as we do with the flu.”

Blevins added, “Hopefully in the future it will be managing isolated outbreaks as opposed to widespread cases.”

As of June 15, Boyle County’s total cases of COVID-19 was 3,480 and there were a total of 78 COVID-19-related deaths, Blevins said.

According to the Kentucky Department of Public Health website, Boyle is listed in Region 5, which also includes Anderson, Bourbon, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Franklin, Garrard, Harrison, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Mercer, Nicholas, Powell, Scott, and Woodford counties. In Region 5 on Tuesday there were 52 COVID-19 patients in hospitals; 14 in ICU, and 14 on ventilators.

Blevins said the county has had a few residents who have been vaccinated but later tested positive for the virus.

“The good thing is that people who test positive and had a vaccine aren’t usually sick like the people were early on in the pandemic.”

Blevins added that he is always concerned about any virus that can spread within the community, “and Covid is top on my list at this time. Because Danville/Boyle is a hub for surrounding counties for health care, restaurants, etc, we have a lot of people coming through this county daily. This can up our chances of increase transmission of disease.”

Blevins said, “On an economic side being a hub county is a great thing for Danville and Boyle County, but on a pandemic side, not so much.”

When the pandemic infiltrated the area in the spring of 2020, the local health department hired a crew of contact tracers last May to keep track of who had the virus and who had been exposed. Since then, “Our cost was over $264,998 from contact tracing/covid response. Many of our full-time employees were also utilized for contact tracing so this includes that cost.”

Blevins said the federal government subsidized that cost. “To date we have received $228,097. I anticipate more reimbursement will be received over the next several months.” He added, “I have been allocated $500,000-plus (as needed) to continue contact tracing throughout 2021-2022, and reimbursement will only be what I use as opposed to receiving the whole amount. My guess is I will use $100,000-$200,000 of that funding in the next 12 months.”

Whether or not individuals have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, Blevins said, “My recommendation is to continue using social distancing/masking anytime you are in a situation where you are not comfortable. It will be interesting to see how businesses handle masking because they now have the ability to determine if they want people to mask or not when they come into the business.”