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Magoffin officials prep for coronavirus


On press day, Mortimer Media Group sat down with Magoffin County Public Health Director and Salyersville Mayor James “Pete” Shepherd, Magoffin County Judge-Executive Matt Wireman and Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Scott Helton about their ongoing plans for proactively preparing for the coronavirus.

Shepherd said they will keep the schools open and continue with business as usual with the government buildings, but they are making contingency plans for if anything changes.

“We’ve had no cases in this county or any in surrounding counties, so we want to go with business as usual, but proceed with caution,” Shepherd said. “We’re just trying to be proactive right now so we can react later.”

Shepherd urged everyone to stay calm and not to believe everything on social media.

“If there are any positive cases, we will notify the public and put emergency protocols in place,” Shepherd said.

Right now, he said if someone comes in with the symptoms similar to the coronavirus, they will be screened, put into isolation if they meet the criteria and tested by the state, but at press time that had not occurred in Magoffin. 

Judge Wireman said he has been in contact with surrounding counties’ judge-executives, as well as government-related offices. He said he’s talked to the jail, the community center and the nursing home to make sure everyone has plans in place.

He emphasized that the restriction on visitation at nursing homes came from an executive order from the governor and that no one locally can change that mandate.

“They’re just trying to keep our loved ones safe,” Wireman said. “In Seattle, a major number of people who died from the coronavirus were in a nursing home.”

At this time, they have not stopped normal governmental functions, but Wireman said they have enacted enhanced cleaning procedures.

Superintendent Helton explained that the schools are working on extended lesson plans in case they have to close school, but emphasized that is only a contingency plan and they have not decided to close the schools.

He is currently looking at state-level competitions to see if Magoffin County students need to attend those events. They are planning to decide on the senior trip on April 1 (last day to get reimbursed for their hotel rooms), but that the Magoffin County Schools District Facebook page will have up-to-date information on what the students are being told about the COVID-19, as well as if any schedule changes are made.

Helton is also looking into how to implement the feeding program if school is called off for an extended amount of time.

At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 12 a webinar will be held at the Magoffin County Health Department for community leaders to receive more information about COVID-19, with Shepherd urging the public to attend.

“I wanted to get all the leaders together to keep them informed,” Shepherd said. “We want everyone to be informed and to be proactive.”

The Independent will share information on this ongoing story and how it relates to Magoffin County as information becomes available.


Heather Oney

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