A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Northern Kentucky Health District warns of ‘critical situation’ as COVID cases increase; wear your mask

By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune reporter

The rampant spread of COVID is putting Northern Kentucky in a critical situation.

“This has been coming. It’s been building for a number of weeks now,” says Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health, Northern Kentucky Health Department (NKHD). Tuesday brought the single highest day of new cases of 309 and another death, bringing the number of lives lost to 100, she says.

Dr. Saddler

There is a rapid increase in the number of people being hospitalized with COVID and these patients are sicker, needing a higher level of care. “Something has to change, and it needs to change in a bold and big way,” Dr. Saddler says. She says it is time to regroup and make sure everyone is taking the needed measures that have been talked about for months. “We have way too many people who have let their guard down,” she says.

“We’re seeing the highest number yet in the pandemic and with no sign of slowing,” says Dr. Saddler.

All counties in the NKHD district are in the red zone, the critical zone. Precautions must be taken to get the virus under control, Saddler says. These precautions, wearing a mask, social distancing, not having gatherings, keeping your hands away from your face, and frequent hand washing truly does help prevent the virus from spreading. Keep in mind, taking these precautions will not last forever. All these basic preventive measures, together, will protect you, protect the people around you, your family.

“We just really need Northern Kentucky to come together, every individual, business, schools, all of us need to take action. It can’t just be one sector of the community; it’s got to be all of us. It’s got to be right now, and we’ve got to get this to slow down,” Dr. Saddler says.

The holidays are coming quickly. A time to be with friends and family, the ones we love. This year needs to be different.

“We’ve really got to look at not doing that this year. That’s what’s facing us. I know it’s really hard because we all care about our loved ones, our family, and our friends, but this is how you show that you love, by not gathering this year,” Dr. Saddler says.

This is the year to be creative, like Halloween, and be together without being in person. Dr. Saddler was impressed with and would love to see the same level of innovation used to do trick or treating safely, applied to have a meaningful Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We all want to get into 2021 on good footing and we know a vaccine is on its way. We need to stay healthy until such time as we can get that shot in our arm,” says Dr. Saddler.

Remembering what we are thankful for and grateful for is why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Doing our part, not having the traditional experience is the right thing to do. Be proud of protecting loved ones.

COVID fatigue is real and understandable.

“I think all of us have it, every single one of us has it in different forms or fashion. The coping strategy is not to give into it,” says Dr. Saddler. Now is not the time to give up. Keep the course, continue to do what is needed.

“Frankly, it’s OK to sometimes just say, ‘This really sucks and I’m sick of it,’” Dr. Saddler says. She suggests getting the frustration out however it is you need. Cry. Scream. Kick a ball outside. Know this will not be forever, but right now the best thing for everyone is to follow the few simple steps given.

Another strategy for coping is to pick your motivation for continuing with the precautions. Family is a powerful motivator. Find ways to see loved ones safely. Fire pits and outdoor movie nights are great family fun. This can be a time to make special memories, make things fun, and be creative.

Dr. Saddler recognizes people’s choices and freedoms to choose not to follow the guidelines. But, this virus, how it spreads, constantly looking for its next host, makes an individual’s decision impact other people’s lives. It impacts those who did not make that choice, spreading the virus to others.

Eventually, workplaces, productivity, and services will be impacted if COVID continues to spread as it is, Dr. Saddler says. Healthcare workers have been feeling its effects, going full force for nine months. They are tired. Hospitalizations are on the rise, patients are sicker, and this will continue to escalate, overwhelming the health care system.

This pandemic has brought a lack of control. But Northern Kentuckians can choose to control the spread by taking the actions necessary to drive this backdown. Make a choice to protect yourself and others.

Thinking about the precautions to control the spread of COVID is like swiss cheese, says Dr. Saddler. Each slice has holes in it, exposing COVID. When stacking and layering them, the holes begin to fill in. All the combined layers and precautions together reduce COVID infection.

“It takes you doing you and me doing me to protect each other and anybody else that happens to be around us. That’s really what we’re looking for, that mutual respect of each other and taking care of each other,” says Dr. Saddler.

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