Schools in Lee, Magoffin close due to Covid-19, other illnesses

The predicted “summer surge” of Covid-19 has been relatively small, but large enough in some Kentucky school districts to make them suspend classes.

Magoffin County schools closed Thursday and Friday, and Lee County schools also closed Tueday through Friday due to illness, WKYT reports. Thursday and Friday were nontraditional instruction days.

Magoffin County Health Department Director Pete Shepherd told the Lexington TV station that the outbreak therevstarted as a combination of illnesses, but is now mainly Covid-19: “We were seeing an uptick of absentees. They were saying Covid, but they were also putting strep throat in there, and there was a virus going around, a stomach virus.”

Shepherd added, “The last month before school, we hardly gave out any home tests. We started giving them out again, and we can’t get them fast enough to give them out.”

WKYT reports, “Shepherd says the district confirmed at least 40 cases on Monday and Tuesday alone, with many others testing at home and keeping their kids out of school. The uptick comes in advance of a new vaccine being rolled out to combat the latest Covid strain. It’s one which Shepherd doesn’t see his county taking much interest in.”

He told the station, “Most parents are just — their kids are going to get sick with it, we’ll hold them home and won’t send them to school. They’re not worried about vaccinations,” Shepherd said. “We can’t hardly give a vaccine away now for Covid.”

Shepherd said that is partly due to the mildness of cases reported so far, but he wants people who are at risk from the diseases to be careful as they spread. And students, too: “They are resilient, and they’re not getting us sick, so that’s the good thing, but we can always take precautions.”

State Health Commissioner Steven Stack “says everyone should consider the new vaccine as well once it’s available,” WKYT notes.

“Baptist Health and UK Healthcare say they have nine and 22 Covid-19 patients, respectively. Laurel County is also tracking a rise in cases from school-aged kids. Dozens of people have recently reported having the virus in Laurel County. County health officials say more than 100 cases were reported last week, and about a third of those were in the local school system. The Woodford County Health Department is tracking an increase in Covid cases as well.”

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