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Harlan Co. Health Department blames sporting events for COVID spike

Harlan Independent and County Schools officials discuss new restrictions on in-person classes
Harlan Independent and County Schools officials discuss new restrictions on in-person classes(WYMT)
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 12:25 PM EST
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HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - On Wednesday, the Harlan County Health Department shared a post on Facebook about a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

The post said information from many of the positive cases shows two large sporting events are to be blamed for the spike.

“If you attended the Harlan Independent vs. Barbourville boys basketball game on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, or the Harlan Independent vs. Harlan County boys and girls basketball games held on Saturday, January 15, 2022, please monitor for symptoms and take extra precautions to protect yourself and those in your household,” said the post.

Officials with the health department said they will try to reach out to as many potential cases as they can, but with the number of reports, it may be difficult to reach everyone quickly.

County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley told WYMT’s Zak Hawke that the health department informed him people attending the game were awaiting test results that would later return positive.

”When we’ve tested positive for COVID we should not go around large groups of people and knowing that that there were positive cases right there at that game Saturday night, at which there were more than 1,500 or more people at, that’s alarming,” said Judge-Executive Mosley.

Mosley told us that he believes both schools have done “an unbelievable job” at staying open this year.

Harlan Superintendent, Charles Morton, said his district keeps track of students and staff that test positive. After this news from the health department they cancelled school Thursday and Friday.

”Where we’re at looking forward to Monday when we come back is, we’ll have, I think, one staff member that will be quarantined and 10 students that would be in quarantine,” said Morton.

Morton said it is critical that they keep kids healthy and in-person.

“The dynamic, the magic of being in front of a teacher and the interactions that take place being with your friends and all that is just critically important to the appropriate social development that kids need,” he said.

The positive cases that prompted the health department to make this announcement are just a part of an unfortunate new milestone for the county.

”It appears that this week will be double the highest week ever since the pandemic started,” said Judge-Executive Mosley.

Now, Mosley wants people to remember to follow the health department guidelines that have been in place throughout the pandemic.

”We’ve lost a 178 people so far to COVID-19. That’s 2.8 percent of the people who have caught COVID passed away from it.”

Reminding his constituents that the fight against COVID-19 is a community effort.

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