The number of COVID-19 cases more than doubled in nine Kentucky counties throughout the month of December.
Pulaski County had the third highest percentage increase. The 2,063 new COVID-19 cases in December gave it a 123% increase throughout the month.
These numbers come as no surprise to the Lake Cumberland District Health Department.
“We’ve known all along that when people get together, it spreads. Even among a small group,” Stuart Spillman from LCDHD explained.
Spillman says overall, compliance in public spaces is good, but the spike is tied to holiday gatherings.
“I believe the people were going into it with good intentions that weren’t sick, and within a day or two later you end up sick, but you’ve already exposed the people that you had your get together with,” he said.
Pulaski County isn’t the only area with a drastic increase of cases. Counties in southern and eastern Kentucky dominated the list of counties with the largest percentage gains.
Spillman believes the culture of these rural areas likely plays a role in the spreading. “For a lot of families, the whole family still lives here close and they’re used to being able to get together, especially for Christmas and Thanksgiving and having a meal together. It’s a great thing, but during a pandemic it kind of ends up being our Achilles’ heel a little bit.”
As for 2021, Spillman expects to see more cases as a result of New Years celebrations. Now that the holidays are past us, and vaccine distribution has already started, he hopes cases will level out toward the end of January.
In the meantime, he’s asking people to be patient.
“If that wasn’t on the horizon, I would understand people just throwing up their hands and saying ‘I’m going to do whatever, and if I get it I get it.’ But we are so close!”
Pulaski County has already distributed several vaccines to healthcare workers and nursing homes. LCDHD has already administered all of its 200 doses.