An 81-year-old McCracken County man lost his life to COVID-19 Monday, the Purchase District Health Department confirmed.
He was the first McCracken County resident to die from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Kent Koster, public health director for the department, hopes that this local loss of life underscores the severity of this pandemic.
“It’s what we’ve been hearing statewide and nationally and throughout the world as far as the seriousness of this virus and (its) potential,” Koster told the Sun. “I guess just seeing it now here at home — realizing that what we’ve been hearing is now coming to fruition in seeing our first death related to this virus — drives home just how serious we do need to (take this situation).”
The deceased is believed to be one of the first in the county to be diagnosed with COVID-19, as his age and gender description match a case announced on March 23.
This news was followed with a rise in the local case count, as a 23-year-old woman tested positive Sunday. She is reportedly in self-quarantine. The total in McCracken was 17 as of Monday evening.
The continued rise in cases prompted Koster to emphasize the importance of following social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the disease.
“We’re still seeing some reports of people not practicing the social distancing that the governor has ordered in some of our box stores,” he said. “I just want to emphasize how important it is for us as individuals to take the responsibility to practice social distancing when we’re in the stores that we still shop in for essential services and goods.”
This isn’t the first death in the area from the disease. A Lyon County woman died from COVID-19 Saturday. Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White confirmed the news in a social media post that night.
The family of Jean Massamore confirmed to White that the 97-year-old, the second Lyon County resident to be diagnosed with COVID-19, died earlier that day.
“I know they’re devastated and a lot of people’ve been praying for that whole family and they appreciate the prayers,” White said.
Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed Sunday during his address that two residents and two staff members of the River’s Bend Retirement Community in Kuttawa, where Massamore resided before being taken to an out-of-state hospital March 29, tested positive for COVID-19.
Beshear and White, in separate online addresses Saturday, commented on the amount of testing done at the facility. White called it “the most significant testing at any facility out there. We’ve done more probably than anyone else who’s got the same situation.
“I appreciate the governor talking about that, because the state was able to do a lot more than they probably had the ability to.”
A Sunday address from White brought an update on testing.
“We have been able to get over 48 tests done today. It took care of all of the staff on both sides — the whole facility,” the judge-executive said. “We’re out of tests again. We had to scramble just to be able to find these.”
Beshear broke the testing down in additional detail. The state, he said, directly tested 12 people, the University of Louisville tested 45 and LabCorp tested 23, for a total of 80 tests at River’s Bend.
“This is one of the most significant amounts of testing in any facility that we have seen in Kentucky, and it’s because it’s that serious when (COVID-19) gets into a retirement home or a nursing home,” Beshear added. “That’s why the social distancing is that important.”
Some staff had not been tested, White noted in the video. Those staffers will not be reporting to work until they have been tested.
He also thanked the University of Louisville, as well as members of the nursing home’s staff and county emergency workers.
Elsewhere in the area, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb:
• A 22-year-old male tested positive in Marshall County, making eight in the county.
• Ballard County’s first case — a 70-year-old woman — was announced Monday. She was reported to be in self-quarantine.
The total number of cases in Kentucky, as announced during Beshear’s address Monday, stood at 1,008 — with 54 new diagnoses confirmed. The governor confirmed an additional 14 deaths, bringing the state total to 59.
For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Kentucky, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov.