Leaders in government, education, and health care who make up the Bowling Green-Warren County Coronavirus Work Group presented an alert Tuesday about the dangerous escalation of COVID-19 in the region.
The work group held a special virtual news conference with an urgent request for area residents to increase their adherence to CDC and state health guidelines, especially the wearing of masks, social distancing, washing hands, and staying away from crowds.
The most urgent message came from the leaders of local hospitals.
“Today we are sounding the alarm," said Connie Smith, president and CEO of Med Center Health. "COVID-19 does not discriminate by age. Roughly a third of our COVID patients who have died have been in their 40s, 50s and 60s. I want to be clear. Healthy people are dying of COVID-19.”
Smith said there is an increasing number of deaths from COVID-19. She said in the first 12 days of November, Med Center Health had 21 deaths due to COVID-19.
Medical staffing as the pandemic escalates is a challenge in Kentucky and across the nation.
"We have seen increase in the number of employees who are sick and unable to work," said Smith.
The two Bowling Green hospitals have brought in medical professionals from other regions, including traveling nurses and respiratory therapists.
Tri-Star Greenview Regional Hospital President Mike Sherrod said there are currently a total of about 70 COVID-19 patients in his hospital and The Medical Center. He said there are about 30 more COVID patients in regional hospitals, including at T.J. Samson Hospital in Glasgow.
Sherrod said members of the community have to do more to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“And I would challenge business owners, if your customers aren’t wearing a mask, I think it’s at a point where they don’t need to be served," said Sherrod. "We don’t allow people to come into the hospitals if they’re not complying with the strict regulations that we have.”
Other members of the work group at the news conference were Bowling Green Independent Schools Superintendent Gary Fields, Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton, President and CEO of Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Phil Neal, Western Kentucky University President Timothy Caboni, Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson, and Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanon.
Note: You can watch the entire press confernce with the Bowling Green-Warren County Coronavirus Work Group here.