The Pike County Health Department is reporting a fairly consistent decline in new COVID-19 cases, though health officials warn that it may be too soon to start shaking hands again.

As of presstime Feb. 15, Pike County’s total number of cases was 5,069 cases, with 997 of those being active cases. 4,021 people were considered recovered, and 51 Pike County residents have died from the virus so far.

Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley said that the county has seen a continued decline in new COVID-19 cases in February, which is positive news compared to the high rolling average of new cases being reported in Pike County in the early weeks of January. She noted that in the month of January, Pike County saw 1,534 new cases, and it has seen 280 new cases in the month of February so far.

“What we’re starting to see in our trend is a continued decline in numbers. In the past seven days, we’ve seen 121 cases, which is down from the previous week,” Riley said. “In comparison to our highest week, which was Jan. 7, in those rolling seven days, there were 440 cases — which was, per 100,000 (population), a rate of 108.6 (cases) per day. What we were seeing in a day per 100,000 is really not far from what we’ve seen these past seven days.”

Additionally, as of Feb. 15, there were 36 patients currently being hospitalized for COVID-19 in Pike County’s hospitals, with 10 of them being Pike County residents. Of those 36 total patients, 14 were in the ICU and eight required ventilators. The total ICU occupancy rate for the county’s hospitals was at 84 percent, and the ventilator occupancy rate was at 31 percent.

Riley first encouraged the public to get a COVID-19 vaccination when they can and to be patient as allocation continues to increase in Kentucky.

“I would just encourage individuals to get a vaccine when it’s their turn, and be patient and wait for allocation to increase,” Riley said. “Over the past few weeks, Kentucky has seen an increase in the percentage of allocation. Pike County has additionally seen an increase in allocation. I would encourage the public to be patient, but be ready, for when the vaccine becomes available for their age group and their category, to do their civic duty and get a vaccine.”

Riley also warned the public that, despite the continued decline in new cases, it is “a little too soon” to start shaking hands and hugging people outside of their households.

“I’ve had several members of the general public ask me if they need to continue to wear a mask, and can they hug me or shake my hand. There are so many people I would love to hug and shake their hand, but it’s a little too soon to have that kind of contact with individuals outside of your household. Until more people are vaccinated and until we know more about how our bodies are going to respond to the vaccines — whether we’re still able to transmit the virus to others versus just not getting sick from the vaccine — there’s just many factors coming into play before we can let our guards down. It’s just a little too soon.”

She encouraged people to continue following the county’s 5-C plan and taking necessary precautions against the virus. The county’s 5-C Plan refers to the Calm, Clean, Cover, Contain and Civic Duty — the necessary steps for taking precautions against COVID-19 and protecting the community.

“That’s the quickest way to see our lives return to normal,” Riley said.

The local COVID-19 data is reported to the Pike County Health Department by local healthcare providers. They follow a stringent reporting process to the state, and each case is thoroughly reviewed. Therefore, the data will not match the state’s COVID-19 informational website, kycovid19.ky.gov.

For more information about Pike County’s cases, visit, www.pikecountyhealth.com. The Pike County Health Department is located at 119 River Drive, and it can be reached at, (606) 437-5500.

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