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Bell County Health Department Director Teresa Hunter has issued a statement confirming the increase of COVID-19 cases in the county. There were 12 new casts confirmed on Monday and 11 more on Tuesday to bring the county’s total to 67.

Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock, Pineville Mayor Scott Madon, and Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson all agree that the increase in numbers emphasizes the need to continue to take the pandemic seriously.

“I think it really emphasizes the need to practice some common sense, such as washing your hands, and using the mask,” Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson said. “I think the community is doing a pretty good job.”

“I echo and Amen Mayor Nelson’s comments and I’ll add that as a compromise for the anti-maskers among us that I humbly ask if they refuse to wear a mask can they please at least stay six feet away from others” Judge Brock pleaded. “I don’t believe that’s too much to ask.”

On Sunday, data was released placing Bell County as the number one county for the largest COVID-19 case increases. Judge Brock and Mayor Nelson say the community should respond to the news by doing the right thing.

“We are unfortunately the hottest spot in the entire state,” Brock said. “So, please wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands often, and use hand sanitizer.”  

“It is just encouragement to encourage the people that are doing the right thing,” Mayor Nelson reiterated. “We don’t wanna get in a situation like they’re doing in Texas or West Virginia where you can’t go into a store without wearing a mask, but it may come to that.”

Brock explained that there wasn’t just one reason for the recent explosion in the number of cases in the county.

“I will say some of our cases are associated with recent travel, some cases are associated with a church gathering but more are just from community spread at random not tied to any of the previously mentioned things,” he said. “We have cases that are asymptotic but more of the most recent cases are symptomatic and some of those are very sympathetic. So in short it’s serious, it’s all over the county — if you don’t want to become infected you know what to do.”

Director Hunter explained that everyone needs to continue to practice social distancing as well as wearing masks and gloves when needed.

“We believe the risk to the public is low, and as this situation evolves, we will continue to communicate with CDC, DPH and the people of Bell County,” Hunter said. “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, there are everyday preventive actions you can do to help prevent the spread of the virus.”

The Health Department issued a list of tips:

— Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

— Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

— Stay home when you are sick.

— Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

— Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

COVID 19 is thought to spread person to person between people who are in close contact with one another within six feet of one another. It is also believed to spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets can land in months and noses of people who are close to one another and it is a possibility that it can be inhaled into the lungs.  

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, cough or shortness of breath. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms should first contact their local health department or health care provider.

A state hotline 1.800.722.5725 is available to help Kentuckians who have questions or need help.

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