As the number of COVID-19 cases decline within the region and restrictions are lessened across the state, local officials are continuing to encourage COVID-19 vaccination efforts and the practice of safety and common sense  throughout Perry County.

On May 28, all events and businesses with 1,000 or fewer people present were permitted to increase to 75 percent capacity, and indoor and outdoor events with more than 1,000 people were able to increase to a 60 percent capacity. Final capacity restrictions related to COVID-19 will end Friday, June 11. In addition to setting the June 11 date for lifting all capacity restrictions, fully vaccinated Kentuckians will no longer need to wear a mask in most places. Gov. Andy Beshear announced that on June 11 the state will eliminate the mask mandate for all Kentuckians with the exceptions of places where people are the most vulnerable.

While those lessening restrictions are welcomed by many, local healthcare officials urge community members to practice good decision making at this time.

“We know restrictions are coming off, however, if a person is not vaccinated they still need to be mindful of this. The restrictions are being lifted with the mindset that a lot of people are vaccinated now. So if people do get COVID, there's going to be that break in the chain of transmission because we've got so many people protected,” said Kentucky River District Health Department Public Health Director Scott Lockard.

The KRDHD, he said, does have a good amount of people vaccinated compared to the rest of the state, but they are not yet where they need or would like to be.

“We still don't have the number of people protected that we would like to have. The percentage of vaccine uptake is still lower than we'd prefer, but we're working on it,” said Lockard. “In Perry County, we've got 39.5 percent of the population vaccinated. There's still room for improvement. We'd like to get up to 70 percent of the overall population. We're at 39.5, so right at 40 percent right now. We're going to keep working.”

The KRDHD, he said, along with other medical facilities across the region, are all continuing to push for vaccinations, and as the warm weather brings on more outdoor events, they are beginning to become more active and mobile in their efforts. “We're starting to do more out reach and take the vaccines out and do more mobile events,” said Lockard, stating that the KRDHD plans to offer vaccinations at all community events they participate in.

“People, still use common sense. Even though it's not mandated we need to use our good judgment and try,” said Lockard. “The numbers show at least half to 60 percent of people in a crowd won't be vaccinated,” he said, adding that people need to continue to practice smart choices while in public.

The area, he said, is still seeing COVID-19 cases, so people need to be aware of that and act accordingly. “We're still seeing cases,” said Lockard.

“There's still cases in Perry County, there's still cases throughout the district. It's not gone yet,” he said. “I think we're transitioning. Instead of being in crisis response, it is something that we're going to have to live with on a daily basis for some time to come.”

As of June 7, the Kentucky River District Health Department said that Perry County has had 2,711 total cases, 66 COVID-19 related deaths and an incidence rate of 7.2. The KRDHD also said as of this week, Perry County is considered a yellow county along with Lee, Leslie, Owsley, Wolfe and Letcher counties. Knott County is considered a green county. None of the KRDHD service area is currently a red or orange county, said KRDHD officials.

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