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Mayfield City Hall Employee Contracts COVID-19 As Graves County Cases Surge

City of Mayfield

A western Kentucky county with an upward surge in coronavirus cases saw the virus make its way into local government earlier this week. 

Mayfield is the county seat of Graves County. Mayor Kathy O’Nan told WKMS a city hall employee tested positive for the virus moments before a scheduled city council meeting Monday, July 13. 

“You talk about scurrying around like rats,” O’Nan said. “Until we opened the doors...we completely went through our whole [decontamination] process again and every place she had been was completely sanitized.”

O’Nan said city employees that worked in close proximity to the COVID-positive staffer will undergo testing this week to determine if the virus was spread within city hall. 

“Everyone who works in that department is behind a partition, they’re masked, they’re washing their hands, they’re doing everything they’re supposed to. And this just happened,” O’Nan explained.

The case in city hall comes alongside an overall surge in cases in Graves County. According to numbers released Wednesday by the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the county has seen 334 confirmed cases and 21 deaths. 

Graves County Health Department Director Noel Coplen said virus cases are increasing throughout the county without regard to geographic location or population group.

“There’s no certain demographic. It’s rich and poor, White, Black and Hispanic,” Coplen said.

Coplen said many of the new cases reported in Graves County come from spread within individual families, with positive residents passing on the virus to their relatives. He said limiting nonessential travel, such as vacations, is crucial to reducing family spread and returning the “curve” of virus cases to a downward trajectory.

Coplen said county health officials are working closely with the Kentucky Department of Public Health to ensure streamlined communication between the levels of government. Ever since Graves County experienced a critical nursing home outbreak early in the pandemic, Coplen said he has participated in regular conference calls with state epidemiologists and other officials. 

Graves County is among the hardest hit counties by COVID-19 in western Kentucky. Find more information, including a full map of the commonwealth’s COVID-19 cases, here.

Dalton York is a Morning Edition host and reporter for WKYU in Bowling Green. He is a graduate of Murray State University, where he majored in History with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership Studies. While attending Murray State, he worked as a student reporter at WKMS. A native of Marshall County, he is a proud product of his tight-knit community.
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