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Baby contracts virus in Harlan, cases near 150

As Harlan County has seen nearly 150 cases of the coronavirus, Judge-Executive Dan Mosley announced Monday that one of the local cases involves a child younger than 1.

“I’m sad to share that we’ve learned that one of our positive cases is an infant,”  he said. “Please pray for this baby and his parents.”

Mosley said the child had mild symptoms of COVID-19 the previous week but is starting to do “much better.”

“Let’s all join together to pray that it continues to do well and recovers completely from this virus,” he said.

Of the total 143 cases since the county’s first positive in May, there are 96 active cases, 44 recovered and three deaths associated with the virus.

All of the active cases, whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic, have been placed in quarantine with the exception of two cases that are hospitalized.

Mosley said community spread in the Dayhoit, Tremont, Wallins and Coldiron areas account for more than 70 percent of the county’s cases in the last two weeks.

“We saw community spread get under control in the Tri-City area a few weeks ago. Now, we must focus on continuing to contain the spread again. I know we can and that we will,” he said.

He is encouraging locals to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough and loss of taste and/or smell.

“If we have those symptoms, we need to call our health care provider about getting tested or what level of care we need. If you are sick, please stay home,” he said.

As of 5:30 p.m. on July 20, 2,856 tests have been conducted in Harlan County, with 2,437 tests being negative and 276 tests currently pending.

Mosley said 9.7 percent of the county’s population has been tested, with 5.3 percent testing positive. In the last week, however, 13.1 percent who have been tested have tested positive.

“This is incredibly high and 2 percent higher than the previous week,” he said.

Gov. Andy Beshear also referenced Harlan County in Tuesday’s update.

“Harlan County’s judge-executive called just the other day and provided a statement we put on social media about how he is seeing the vast majority of people in his county go from not wearing a mask to wearing one every day in areas we need to see them,” he said.

Beshear showed a color-coded map of Kentucky pertaining to the number of COVID-19 cases across the state, noting it would change after Tuesday’s positives.

“Some of these areas that were still a lighter color, remember so was Harlan and so was Bell, and Harlan will turn that darkest color after today’s (Tuesday’s) report,” he said, adding the color represents counties with 100 to 5,300 reported positive cases. “It happened almost overnight.”

Beshear said it is important to make sure everyone does their part across the state.

“That’s one county I expect, at least from the feedback I’m getting from people really buying into facial coverings, that hopefully we can stabilize this,” he said.

A mask mandate is also in effect by Beshear. Mosley said if anyone needs a mask, call his office at 606-573-2600 and “we will gladly mail you one.”

Mosley said it is also important that businesses are conducting health screenings of employees when they arrive for work, including temperature checks.

“A business should never allow an employee who is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to work their shift and potentially infect others,” he said. “Healthy at Work guidelines can be viewed at healthyatwork.ky.gov. Protect your employees by following these guidelines and in turn you are protecting your customers and your community.”

He said the Health Department determines if a business needs to close for cleaning if an employee who works for the facility tests positive.

“Some businesses have voluntarily closed on their own out of an abundance of caution to clean. If you have questions or concerns about this, I would encourage you to speak directly with the health department,” he said.

To report non-compliance of COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, Mosley said to call the Harlan County Health Department at 606-573-4820.

If you were a close contact of any of the positive cases, the Health Department will reach out to you directly as part of its contact tracing and will instruct you on what measures are necessary to protect you and your family.