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Laurel County joins list of counties in COVID-19 ‘red zone’; demand rising for vaccinations

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 11:37 AM EDT
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LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Laurel County has joined the list of counties back in the COVID-19 ‘red zone.’

Health leaders say vaccination rates in the area are also still lagging.

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The director of the health department, Mark Hensley, says the increase of cases is because of the delta variant and is creating a slightly greater demand for vaccinations, but there’s still a long way to go.

Laurel County was seeing only two or three positive COVID-19 cases a day just a few months ago. Now, it’s more than 20 a day and, because of that, they are back in the red zone.

This is also in an area of Kentucky known for its vaccine hesitancy.

Hensley says just 31 percent of the county is fully vaccinated. Over 60 percent of those 65 and older are fully vaccinated. There have been 170 COVID-19 cases over the past seven days.

Hensley says they are seeing cases of the delta variant, and, of the 170, 15 are breakthrough, meaning those people were fully vaccinated. However, he says most people who tested positive who were vaccinated had symptoms that were not considered severe. All of this is causing more people to want to be vaccinated.

The West brothers are about to start a new school year and new sports seasons. They say getting the vaccine is important to them.

“I just think it will help me, in playing sports without getting sick,” said Jamison West.

Franklin West is a lineman on the Corbin Football team. He says Covid caused several cancellations last year. He says a vaccine is very important.

“Yes very much, I just want to live without a mask,” Franklin said.

“Well, actually, my husband is a health care provider,” said Becky West. “He called me this morning and said if the boys haven’t been vaccinated, please get them vaccinated because the delta variant has caused a huge uptick in his clinic.”

Health leaders also say many have avoided the vaccine because they simply thought it wasn’t needed anymore.

“That they were kinda holding off on the vaccine, they thought it was done with. They thought that maybe Covid was out of here,” Hensley said. “But now, with the new cases and the new surge, they are coming in to get the vaccines.”

Some don’t trust the vaccine, others believe there wasn’t enough research but the West family believes it’s the right thing for them and others.

“There’s a lot of stories going around,” Becky West said. “We don’t know what to believe and what not to believe. But my husband, who I respect and admire, says it’s something everyone should do.”

Hensley tells us they’ve had 15 breakthrough cases in recent days, people who get Covid after being vaccinated, but he says those people had very minor symptoms compared to those who didn’t get vaccinated.

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