The COVID-19 count had another double-digit increase in Hopkins County Tuesday. And a furlough announcement meant another economic hit.
Health Director Denise Beach said the county now has 73 confirmed coronavirus cases, up from 62 Monday. She noted that does not include people with symptoms who are self-quarantining.
“People are really fixated on the numbers,” Beach said during the daily Facebook Live briefing. “But we don’t test everyone.”
Yet Beach also had hopeful numbers. She said 19 of the 73 patients have reported a full recovery from the virus. The COVID-19 death toll in Hopkins County remains at four.
Gov. Andy Beshear said the newest victim is a 76-year-old woman.
Details on the third Hopkins County COVID-19 death have not been released.
Days after announcing it would begin making items to protect against the virus, Carhartt announced Tuesday that it will furlough 33 employees in Hopkins County for three weeks.
A corporate statement said 1,300 unpaid furloughs will be required nationwide from Monday, April 13 to Saturday, May 9 “to take necessary steps to preserve its future.”
Carhartt began providing paid leave during the week of March 16, so workers could have more space to prevent the spread of the virus.
But spokesperson Amy Hellebuyck said the new Carhartt mission will not change.
“The furlough does not impact our ability to manufacture personal protective equipment like masks and gowns,” Hellebuyck said in an email from suburban Detroit. The company’s goal was to begin producing gowns this week and masks in two weeks.
At least one employee at Carhartt has tested positive for COVID-19. Beach’s team has interviewed all of the coronavirus patients in Hopkins County. She said the most common symptoms are a fever, body aches and cough.
“We have multiple people hospitalized for breathing issues, such as pneumonia and shortness of breath,” Beach said.
Because the number of patients has jumped from 26 to 73 in a week, Hopkins County officials advise churches not to hold any drive-in services this weekend.
“There’s not going to be room to put a space between every car,” Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. said.
“Many people get out of their car,” Beach said, which increases “the gathering potential.”
“We’re being a little more strict than some of the other communities,” Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton added, because Hopkins County has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in the commonwealth.
Cotton wants to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus increase. So on Friday, he ordered all retail businesses still open to have a “one person per family” limit beginning today. The only exception is for single-parent families.
“We’ve asked and we’ve begged,” Cotton said.
The new rule applies to big-box stores such as Lowe’s, which is entering its busiest season of the year. Cotton became concerned when he saw ads for a “spring’s Black Friday sale” this weekend, so he talked with the manager.
“There’s only 150 people maximum who will be able to get in there,” Cotton said. Lowe’s has made several donations of personal protective equipment to the city and county since the outbreak began.
Hopkins Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. issued an executive order saying, “No one 18 years of age or younger shall be in public” between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless they’re accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or involved in a job.
“We’re still getting many more contacts than we need,” Whitfield said.
For that reason, the order goes on to ban any congregating “in a group of 10 or greater in any place open to the public at large.”
Whitfield went beyond the order, announcing the closure of both county ATV parks. That could mean fewer visitors to Earlington for a while.
Sheriff Matt Sanderson said Thursday night’s opening of a youth curfew across Hopkins County had no incidents.
Parts of the county have had curfews in recent years. Madisonville and Dawson Springs imposed one in the days after the 2009 ice storm. St. Charles declared a curfew in the summer of 2012 after vandals damaged the city park.
Whitfield hinted an expansion is not out of the question.
“There really doesn’t need to be anybody out after 8 p.m.” Whitfield said, noting most retailers now are closing earlier.
Sanderson advised against “going to friends’ houses, even during the day.”
In other news related to COVID-19:
• Some Madisonville stores reflected a recent step to control the virus. Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. asked them to make their aisles one-way thoroughfares.
• a local phone number was established for people who need food assistance or want to provide assistance to others. The number is 270-825-5013.
• Beshear said Western State Psychiatric Hospital in Hopkinsville “is being hit pretty hard” by the virus, so no new residents are being accepted.
• Muhlenberg County Judge-Executive Curtis McGehee declared a curfew for all ages between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. In Hopkins County, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Charles Young said people are heeding the five-day-old curfew for youth.
• County Clerk Keenan Cloern announced that vehicle and boat tags now can be renewed by phone. Call 1-866-658-0866 and have a title, vehicle identification number and debit or credit card ready.
• Gov. Andy Beshear said the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City has 14 positive cases. Nine are inmates, while five are staff members.
• Beach said her office is “not focusing” on the possibility of the virus spreading through the mail. But she added people who want to be “really cautious” should set paperwork aside for about nine days.
• Cotton announced all golf courses in Hopkins County would close Friday evening. The course at City Park was closed last Monday.
• the Salvation Army reported its greatest current need is financial support for serving hot meals to older people.
• Mortons Gap Mayor Chris Phelps announced City Hall will be closed on Fridays beginning next week, and will no longer accept cash payments.