In south-central Kentucky, health workers and officials try to overcome coronavirus fatigue and politicization of the pandemic

Many in downtown Glasgow wear masks; many don’t. (Courier Journal photo by Michael Clevenger)

Health officials are working “to convince a skeptical public in south-central Kentucky of the risk of catching the deadly virus racing through the region, taking lives and putting an ever-growing number of people in the hospital,” Deborah Yetter of the Louisville Courier Journal reports after a trip to Glasgow, Tompkinsville and Bowling Green.

Brandon Dickey, chief nursing officer at T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow, “sees people daily ignoring precautions meant to slow the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus,” Yetter reports. Dickey “believes the virus has sneaked up on rural communities including Barren County, where some people view it as a big-city problem.”

“My perception is that people are tired of hearing about it,” Dickey said. “It’s been heavily politicized and people have mixed feelings about it. I wish people could come see the seriousness of it first-hand, because it is real.”

Courtney Calloway’s co-workers gave her
flowers after she returned to work after a
bout with the virus. (Med Center Health photo)

“People still continue to think it’s a hoax or it’s not going to happen to them,” said Courtney Calloway, a Bowling Green nurse who contracted the virus in May while working on the covid-19 unit at Med Center Health. She told Yetter that she still suffers fatigue and joint pain, six months later, and she and her colleagues are “not really feeling the community is doing their part in a lot of ways.”

Business people in Glasgow told Yetter that most people wear masks in the town of 14,000, “but those opposed to restrictions, including mask-wearing, are vocal about it, said Eddie Bruner … who requires masks in his shop. . . . Outside Glasgow’s downtown, some openly disregard the order by the governor to wear a facial covering in public. At one convenience store a reporter visited, neither several customers nor the worker at the cash register wore a mask; at another, a sign advised customers to wear a mask, but few, except two employees at the counter, did so.”

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