COVID numbers rise; when is it safe to be around others?

Hancock County remains in the top 20 in the commonwealth for highest seven-day average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.  With three new deaths announced early this week, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is spotlighting the need to follow safety precautions and how to handle potential exposures.

As of November 18, Hancock County had a total of nine COVID-related deaths and 243 confirmed positive cases, with 169 of those having recovered, with a seven-day average of 62.2 daily cases per 100,000 population, but the continued spread of the virus means more residents are coming into contact with those who have it and necessitating a clarification of the procedures for when that happens.
“…There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration,” read a November 15 White House virus report.

Guidance from the office of the governor of Kentucky laid out recommendations for how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely …by bypassing the traditional family gatherings and replacing them with alternatives.It recommends having a small dinner only with those who live in the same household, or preparing meals for neighbors or family members and delivering them while avoiding contact. Online shopping, virtual dinners and even watching sports with those in the same household are also listed as lower risk.

While the CDC hasn’t placed a limit or a recommendation on the number of people who can gather for Thanksgiving, the state has previously recommended gatherings of no more than 10 people, which still applies to Thanksgiving.
Likewise the state says that no one should plan a gathering with anyone who is actively positive, has symptoms of COVID-19, or is waiting for test results.

The Green River District Health Department, however, goes further in its recommendations for Thanksgiving.
“Do not host or attend gatherings of any kind,” the organization said in its November 18 press release.
It also urged everyone to mind the three W’s: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

Be on the lookout for the symptoms of COVID-19, some of which are: 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, and diarrhea.

But if someone has already contracted the virus or has been around someone who has, what happens then?  According to the CDC, here’s when it’s safe to be around others.
If someone knows or believes they’ve had COVID-19 and exhibited symptoms, it’s safe to be around others 10 days after the symptoms first appeared, plus 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever reducers, plus the improvement of other symptoms. No additional test is needed to determine whether it’s safe to be around others.
One symptom that’s been linked with the virus has the potential to hang around.
“Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation,” according to the CDC.

If someone has tested positive but has no symptoms, the CDC said it’s safe to be around others after 10 days have passed since the positive test.

For those who were severely ill with the virus or have a weakened immune system, the CDC recommends longer isolation.  “People who are severely ill with COVID-19 might need to stay home longer than 10 days and up to 20 days after symptoms first appeared,” it said.

For those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the rules for quarantine are pretty simple.
“Anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after their last exposure to that person,” it said.

The CDC defines “close contact” as being within six feet of someone for a total of 15 minutes or more, having provided home care to someone with the virus, having had physical contact like a hug or kiss, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or getting coughed or sneezed on.

But there’s one major exception to the quarantine for those who have already recovered from the virus.
If a person has had and recovered from COVID-19 in the previous three months and isn’t showing symptoms, that person, according to the CDC, needn’t quarantine at all even after an exposure.

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing is available at the Hancock County Health Center on November 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., but tests must be scheduled ahead of time by logging onto:

Governor Andy Beshear was expected to announce additional COVID-19 rules on Wednesday just before press time.

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