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Proud of health department, community partners

By Shawn Crabtree
LCDHD Executive Director

On March 19th of 2020, Lake Cumberland had its first documented COVID-19 case. Over the ensuing year, the disease has left its mark on all of us, in one way or another. Businesses, churches, schools, and every single citizen have suffered and sacrificed, in a wide variety of ways.

At the peak of its spread, in early January of 2021, we were experiencing over 100 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 citizens. In late last December, we topped out at 301 new cases in a single day. Area hospitals were at their COVID-19 and ICU limits. Things looked dire as our public health and hospital capacity were near their breaking points. By the grace of God, and with the efforts of the health department and other health and medical providers, with citizen compliance with prevention guidance, and with vaccination efforts ramping up, though, it would seem we have turned the corner on this disease since the number of new cases per day have been on a steady decline since January. While we are not out of the woods yet (at the world level, cases are beginning again to increase since there are significant surges in several countries), we are thankful for the local decrease in cases, for continued public caution, and for the aggressive vaccination efforts.

While nothing about this disease has been easy on society, and while there are always areas where things could have been improved, I am proud of how our communities have responded. Again, we have all sacrificed but, hopefully, the end is in sight.

At this one-year anniversary, I take an account of the efforts of your local health departments in responding to this pandemic.

With a small group of dedicated employees who were willing to work long hours and weekends for the last year straight, we have completed nearly 21,000 case investigations and provided contact tracing for approximately 125,000 individuals. While isolation and quarantine procedures have not been easy on anyone, our public has been largely cooperative and, together, we have slowed the spread of the disease, and, in the process, saved numerous lives, and prevented many hospitalizations.

But case investigations and contact tracing only scratch the surface of the health department's efforts. Among other things, we worked with every single long-term care facility in our region, every public school district, and many churches and businesses to develop prevention and/or post-exposure plans. We hand-delivered information on multiple occasions to medical providers and many businesses. We developed a vast email network of medical providers, schools, businesses, and other community partners and pushed out frequent guidance and other updates. We worked with many long-term care and medical facilities to assess and secure personal protective equipment.

When it comes to testing, we became a testing kit distribution site and worked with area health providers to secure several thousand testing kits. We worked with multiple community health partners to coordinate and administer mass-testing sites.

We have consistently kept the public informed as to case statistics, testing locations, and vaccination information via our daily briefs posted on our social media sites and website. We have conducted weekly and then bi-weekly live media and public updates. And, we have participated in numerous radio, newspaper, and television interviews. We set up a call center and have answered tens of thousands of questions. We responded to more social media requests than can almost be fathomed.

Not including the nursing and personal care home vaccination efforts via the federal contract with Walgreens and CVS, nearly 30,000 first dose COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far by Lake Cumberland area providers. The health department alone has administered around 16,000 1st and 2nd dose vaccines (nearly half of the vaccine that has been allocated to our district), consistently moving over 90% of our inventory per week, while giving priority to those who are the most likely to experience negative health outcomes.

While all of this has been disruptive and challenging (not to mention, controversial), I am proud of how the health department, all our community partners, and our citizens have responded and endured. Here's to the hope that the virus doesn't kick back up and that everyone will heal from the financial, and emotional pain this disease has caused.

This story was posted on 2021-03-20 06:12:37
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