Pike County Health Department is reporting an ongoing spike in COVID-19 active cases and hospitalizations, as well as one new death, and health officials are encouraging the public to continue taking precautions and to comply with contact tracing, as of presstime Nov. 19.

As of presstime Nov. 19, the county’s total number of cases was 1,627, with 570 of those being active cases, and 1,041 people were considered recovered. 16 Pike County residents have died from the virus so far, which was an increase of one new death since presstime Nov. 16.

In the last seven days, there have been 211 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Pike County, according to the Pike County Health Department.

As of 5 p.m. Nov. 18, there were 83 admitted COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Pike County, which is an increase of 10 new patients being admitted into Pike County hospitals since presstime Nov. 16. Of the 83 total COVID-19 patients in Pike County hospitals, 46 are Pike County residents.

Of those 83 total COVID-19 patients, 25 were in the ICU, and 15 were on ventilators.

Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley said that the county is still seeing a majority of new cases being spread through community spread, including gatherings and events, and they are still seeing several long-term care facility outbreaks.

Riley said that the PCHD has faced an increased difficulty in contacting necessary individuals while they conduct contact tracing, and she urged residents to continue complying with the health department. Health departments have used contact tracing for decades to isolate people exposed to other diseases. Health workers ask the infected who they have been in frequent contact with and seek to quarantine those people.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in non-compliance of direct contact and actual patients who have been non-compliant,” Riley said, regarding their efforts with contact tracing. “We’ve had issues getting individuals on the telephone, and we’ve had issues getting individuals to return our phone calls.”

Riley provided explanation for why the massive spike in new cases within one week can mean an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in a community.

“When active cases grow and they grow quicker than we are able to see individuals recover, that equals an increase in hospitalizations and an increase in ICU occupancy in our hospitals, and ultimately an increase in individuals who do not recover from COVID-19,” she said.

Riley acknowledged the fatigue that many members of the public may feel, but she said she wanted to remind the public of the “light at the end of the tunnel.”

“Public Health understands that individuals are tired. We understand that COVID fatigue is real,” Riley said. “However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We know that effective vaccines and improved treatment modalities are on their way, and I would like to encourage the public to participate in and comply with the new recommendations and mandates.”

The local COVID-19 data provided 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 the 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.

Symptoms and testing

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea.

According to the state’s official COVID-19 website, testing in Pike County can be found at:

• Shelby Valley Clinic (178 Douglas Parkway, Pikeville)

• Pikeville Community Health Center (50 Weddington Branch Road, Pikeville)

• Pikeville Medical Center (231 Hibbard Street, Pikeville)

• East Kentucky After Hours Clinic (255 Church Street, Suite 102B, Pikeville)

• Ramey Family Practice (10363 Regina Belcher Hwy, Elkhorn City)

• HomePlace Clinic (118 River Drive, Pikeville)

• HomePlace Clinic (26229 U.S. Hwy 119 North, Belfry)

• First Care Clinic (115 Lee Avenue, Suite 1, Pikeville)

Contact each location for specific hours and appointment scheduling.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of the reported symptoms, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Anyone of any age can contract the virus. However, older adults and people who are immunocompromised or who have severe underlying medical conditions — including cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, COPD, obesity, asthma, hypertension or high blood pressure, sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease and liver disease — have a higher risk of developing more serious complications from COVID-19.

According to the CDC, the primary ways to protect against contracting or spreading the virus is to do frequent hand washing, maintain social distancing (keeping six feet apart from others) and wearing a face mask or facial covering when around others.

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