While no positive tests for COVID-19 have been reported in McCracken County, local officials concede it may only be a matter of time.
For the second straight week, representatives of local government, the health department, first responders and emergency management hosted a news conference to discuss ongoing efforts to address the coronavirus.
Updates were provided on testing procedures, the supply of personal protective equipment for front-line care providers, and the need for the community to continue safety measures to control the possible spread of the virus, such as frequent hand-washing and maintaining a social distance of 6 feet.
Both McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer and Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless praised the efforts of first responders and medical personnel who are on the front lines of keeping the community safe.
There was also discussion of the inevitability that a positive test will be reported in the area.
“Locally, I think at a very high level, we need to accept that the virus is here,” Clymer said.
“We need to accept that, we need to act accordingly. Fear and panic can really be worse than the virus itself. I think the plan for our community is the need for reason and not panic, and for rationality and not fear.
“It’s for open-mindedness and not suspicion, for altruism and not being self-serving. We need to be patient, we need to not blame, we need to educate ourselves and help each other.”
“This too shall pass. And when it’s done, we’ll be stronger as a community than ever before.”
Harless echoed Clymer’s call for reason.
“I know sometimes our fight or flight mechanism kicks in as humans,” Harless said. “I urge everyone to really sit back and take a moment. We have reason to have a lot of confidence in the teams working around our community.
“There’s no doubt that this virus is in our community. We just don’t know exactly where at this moment. But as these tests become available we will start to identify that and then we can respond accordingly.
“I also want to make sure that we’re willing to be open with each other and that we’re communicating as regularly as possible like we are today.”
Ken Koster, director of the Purchase Area Development District Health Department, said his department is responsible for monitoring businesses such as restaurants to make sure Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive orders regarding limiting public gatherings are being followed.
“I would just encourage everyone to please adhere to that,” Koster said. “That (social distancing) is a large way that we’re going to be able to decrease exposure for all of us.”
Also Friday, Beshear recommended that all Kentucky schools remain closed through April 17.
Steve Carter, McCracken County Public Schools superintendent, thanked parents and staff in the district for their “patience and flexibility as we all navigate through these unprecedented times and the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.”
Carter said the district will continue to develop non-traditional instruction packets for students as needed through April 17. He also said the district will try to continue serving meals during the closure.
This week, more than 23,500 meals were served, Carter said.
Jerome Mansfield, director of the Paducah-McCracken County Office of Emergency Management, praised the coordination between agencies in dealing with the coronavirus.
He also encouraged members of the public who are able to think about what they can do to help someone during the emergency.
“We’re asking churches, civic organizations, fraternal groups, and private sector employers to look after your own and watch over those in your neighborhoods who are vulnerable to health problems or other conditions.”