By: Dr. Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health
It’s been seven months since we received the call in early March announcing COVID-19 had made it to Kentucky. Soon after, NKY Health began a “new normal” of operations that continues to this day. In some ways, March seems like a lifetime ago, yet in other ways it feels like it was only yesterday. I hope you all are doing well as we continue to navigate the challenges in our personal and professional lives during this unprecedented time.
Before I share information on our response efforts, I want to pause and recognize all of your efforts to serve not only the people of Northern Kentucky, but also each other. Despite how much has changed from how we operated at the beginning of the year versus how we operate today, NKY Health staff has met every challenge with both determination and dedication. I cannot say enough how proud and appreciative I am of all of your efforts.
Current COVID-19 Situation
You can see our daily COVID-19 dashboard on our website at https://nkyhealth.org/individual-or-family/health-alerts/coronavirus/. The dashboard has recently undergone some improvements, and I encourage you to explore it to see everything it offers. As various aspects of our economy have continued to reopen and in-classroom instruction in schools have resumed, Kentucky has begun to see a larger increase in cases. Although our region continues to see community spread, it is in a slow, controlled manner at this time. Controlling the spread is crucial to the lives of Northern Kentuckians and will help prevent Northern Kentucky doctors and hospitals from becoming overwhelmed once flu season is in full swing. The largest demographic of active cases continues to be in the 20-29-year-old demographic. There has also been an ongoing rise in the 10-19-year-old demographic. We are monitoring this demographic closely and continue to work with area schools to provide guidance on safe learning environments for both students and staff.
- In-classroom instruction at schools – We continue to work with various schools on their reopening plans and monitoring the safety of in-person instruction. This includes tracking cases, contact tracing and quarantining, and advising schools regarding the measures to prevent the spread of COVID in their facilities.
- Preventive messaging – We continue to promote safe COVID-19 practices on social media including wearing a face covering when in public and around others, maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet away from others not in your household, washing hands frequently and keeping them away from your face. Additionally, we are sharing recommendations developed by the state regarding safe-practices to observe during Halloween.
- Influenza Season – Flu season has begun in Northern Kentucky. We have begun social media messaging efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated against the flu. This year is especially important because we don’t want people having to fight both flu and COVID-19 at the same time. You do not need to wait to get your flu shot through NKY Health – the important thing is to get your flu shot now. It is readily available throughout the community at pharmacies, Kroger, and St. Elizabeth drive-throughs. Just let your supervisor know that you have received it.
On the Horizon
- Fall/Winter – As the weather becomes colder and people start moving inside more and spending more time in close proximity to one another, the possibility exists for an increase in the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the situation and remind the public about preventive measures while we continuously assess the provision of all of our programs and services.
- Planning for COVID-19 Vaccinations – While there are several COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of clinical trials, we do not know when a safe and effective vaccine will be available to distribute to the population. The state and NKY Health have been reviewing existing plans for mass vaccinations and making adjustments as information is provided by the various agencies of the federal government. More information will be rolled out as we get closer to the reality of a vaccine.
In closing, I’d like to say that the people of Northern Kentucky are lucky to have such talented professionals dedicated to promoting and protecting the health of this region. I cannot say enough how honored and grateful I am of all that you have done and all that you continue to do. Thank you for being on our health department team. Stay safe, stay healthy and keep up the fantastic work!