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Two years of COVID-19 pandemic: Hopkins Co. officials reflect

Two years of COVID-19 pandemic: Hopkins Co. officials reflect
Published: Mar. 13, 2022 at 9:39 PM CDT
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HOPKINS CO., Ky. (WFIE) - Two years ago, the U.S. began to shut down as the country’s number of COVID-19 cases first started to rise. One of the first and hardest-hit areas in the Tri-State was Hopkins County.

It’s one of those moments that many remember exactly where they were when the news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke. Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. says looking back, he wishes he could have had a crystal ball to see what he was about to face.

“I was in my office, listening to the Governor as he was talking about what was going on,” said Whitfield, reflecting on the moment he knew a lockdown was starting.

“Hopkins County has been hit really, really hard,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said in one of his first COVID-19 Team Kentucky updates in 2020.

Two years ago, cases were doubling, even tripling in Hopkins County each week, local and state government were giving briefings daily.

“It’s an important community to me,” said Beshear in 2020 when cases were spiking in Dawson Springs. “It’s where my dad’s from. It’s where my family’s from.”

“We were trying to get as much information out as possible to help avoid the worst effects of the pandemic, that obviously did not work because Hopkins County was one of the hardest-hit counties,” Whitfield said.

It was all new, with no way of knowing how to prepare or what was coming next.

“The first few months, the information coming out from the CDC, from the governor’s office, changed almost on a daily basis, sometimes an hourly basis,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield says he took it a day at a time, trying to guide his community when he himself was unsure of the future.

He says looking back, it taught him a lot.

“I learned the importance of being able to work together to get information out, and also not panicking, being steady and consistent as much as possible to get that information,” he said.

Another silver lining, Whitfield says Hopkins County’s local economy has made a recovery.

“We had a lot of businesses that were affected, obviously,” said Whitfield. “Some that we lost, unfortunately, but we’ve had other businesses start up. Our economy here in the county is doing very well, and I think we’re poised to grow.”

Whitfield says moving forward, as health officials predict the country is on its way to ‘endemic’ status, county officials will do what they have done so far – monitor it and take it day by day.

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