BG/WC Coronavirus Workgroup holds virtual news conference with ‘urgent’ message for citizens
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The Bowling Green/Warren County Coronavirus Workgroup held a news conference Thursday to discuss the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and the impact it is having on healthcare, education and the economy.
Connie Smith, CEO of Med Center Health said the Coronavirus Workgroup was sounding the alarm about the surge in cases and the seriousness of the situation. “I want to be clear,” Smith said. “Healthy people are dying of COVID-19.” Smith said 21 people have died due to the virus only 12 days into November.
Mike Sherrod, CEO of Tristar Greenview Hospital said the pandemic had changed the community. “The one thing I can’t emphasize enough is the use of a mask. It’s proven, we know that from the CDC and from health care providers,” said Sherrod. He added that if the spread of the virus isn’t slowed it will have an affect on area schools, businesses and health care systems. He challenged business owners to avoid serving customers who do not wear masks.
Bowling Green Independent School District Superintendent Gary Fields said he sees 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds wearing masks and washing their hands as well as middle school students and high school students. “If our students can do it... follow the lead of our students and our staff,” said Fields.
Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton asked the community to come together and cooperate in wearing masks and social distancing. “We’re committed to providing the opportunity for our students to have in-person classes, but it’s really up to us as an entire community,” said Clayton.
Dr. Phillip Neal , Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College President and CEO said each person has the responsibility as well as the tools to keep the virus from spreading further. “Now is the time for us to step up together and support our local hospitals and our front line workers by tamping down the virus through compliance with the CDC regulations," said Neal.
Western Kentucky University President Dr. Timothy C. Caboni said regardless of redesigning operations to successfully work alongside the coronavirus, it will be useless unless each person makes the decision to follow simple guidelines proven to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. “We can only fight this virus if we fight it together,” said Caboni. He said the reason WKU had seen success in dealing with the virus was because faculty, staff and students took action. He asked citizens to do the same.
Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said the toll the virus was taking on the area was real and that health care facilities were reaching their limits. He asked citizens to limit contacts and to stop social gatherings that would cause the virus to spread, and to wear masks when out in public. “It’s still possible to turn the tide and bring these cases to a more manageable level, but the time to act is short and the time to act is now,” said Wilkerson.
Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanon said citizens had changed habits and learned to live alongside COVID-19, but that work is now at risk. “Please hear me,” said Buchanon. “We are facing a serious consequence if we don’t change our ways.” Buchanon said if business owners weren’t enforcing the mask mandate, they were not putting employees and customers first, but putting them at risk.
Wilkerson said they were considering enforcement of guidelines to stop spread of the virus. “We didn’t being this virus here, but we’re going to run it out if we can,” said Wilkerson.
Buchanon said he believed most businesses were complying with recommendations, but that he had been to a restaurant where nobody was wearing masks and had seen bars packed “shoulder to shoulder."
Mike Sherrod said there were around 70 cases of the virus hospitalized locally and 100 cases regionally including TJ Samson. He said the issue at the moment was not beds, but staffing. Connie Smith said both hospitals had brought in other staff.
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