CORBIN — Friday morning, local leaders came together at City Hall in Corbin for a social media press conference to brief citizens on the local impacts of COVID-19. The collaborative media briefing was an effort initiated by Corbin City Commissioner Andrew Pennington.
Corbin Mayor Suzie Razmus welcomed guests.
Baptist Health CEO Anthony Powers said a physician-driven testing center has been set up across the street from the Baptist Health Corbin at the Corbin Center. As of Friday, 45 people had been tested at the center so far.
Powers thanked the community for being understanding.
However he reminded individuals that without symptoms, they will not receive a test. Whitley County Public Health Director Marcy Rein echoed that measure.
The visitation policy at Baptist Health Corbin has changed three times in the course of three weeks for the safety of everyone, said Powers. He highly discouraged visitation across the board. The rule is one visitor per patient, provided a temperature check is approved all other screening questions are met with approval.
Powers said it is in the best interest of loved ones and the whole community.
No children under 16 are permitted on campus unless they are seeking treatment as a best practice and at the recommendation of the CDC.
Powers said the staff is working to ensure the elderly population will be able to video chat with family members.
The hospital is prepared, said Powers, and while many are nervous it is in practice for this all the time and it is being put into place. Powers also added the hospital has enough supplies and the staff is working to take good and safe care of patients.
Rein said the Whitley County Health Department is closed to general public. Services such as the WIC services can be conducted over the phone and the needle exchange will operate from a drive-thru only.
The health department is not testing for COVID-19. Rein reminded citizens that they do not need testing if they do not have symptoms and to stay six feet apart from people you don’t live with, wash hands and cough and sneeze in your elbow.
“I am incredibly impressed by the partnerships between our community leaders in going through this,” said Rein. “This is hard — the understatement of the century. We understand that and we appreciate the hard work that everyone is doing. I am impressed everyday when I see neighbors taking care of neighbors.”
Ron Herd, general manager of Corbin City Utilities, said a decision was made during a special meeting to waive all late fees. He encourages people to pay online and to pay their bills. He also encourages conservation efforts of sewer and water. Herd requested that residents do not flush wipes down the toilet.
For any upcoming questions regarding concerns about Delta Natural Gas, individuals can contact local manager Bobby Bargo at 606-528-3611.
Delta is encouraging all customers to contact the local office if they are having trouble paying. They do offer online payment and they will restore service and waive collection fees. Please call the emergency hotline 800-432-0771 if you smell gas.
Corbin Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel noted the city’s restaurants closed and changes of service in local businesses.
Kriebel said restaurant and transient tax has been suspended in an effort to assist businesses and potentially help pay their employees. Kriebel also announced any February tax payments due in March are no longer due.
Hotels are open and clean as ever, said Kriebel. Anyone with tourism questions can call 528-8860.
Corbin Police Chief Rusty Hedrick and Corbin Fire Chief Barry McDonald spoke to residents.
Hedrick said the Corbin Police station had closed the lobby but anyone with questions or concerns could call 528-1122. He advised not to call 911, but to save that for emergencies. Hedrick said his team is still active in the community and enforcing laws. He emphasized to citizens and businesses to follow Gov. Andy Beshear’s orders.
“We do not want to have to arrive and forcibly close your business, but we will if we have to,” said Hedrick.
McDonald said the Corbin Fire Department was doing business as usual however call volume was down. The department is closed to visitors and at this time they aren’t issuing burn permits. Firefighters are quarantining so they are healthy to respond when needed. Questions for the fire department can be directed to 606-523-6509.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison attended the press conference saying how much he appreciates the group effort and the communities working together.
“The one thing I love about Whitley County is we just come together as a family when bad things happen,” Harrison said.
Harrison reminded people how much the restaurants need the community. He said Williamsburg is adhering to the restaurant requirements. The Williamsburg City Hall lobby is closed but they are doing business by drive-thru and over the phone. They too are not disconnecting services however Harrison said the bills are going out and encourages those to pay as they can.
The Whitley County Library is closed through March 30.
Harrison said he was proud of the way the schools were feeding the students and the community. He also said he has a feeling the school closure will be extended.
Corbin Independent School Superintendent Dave Cox said the district is working to get technology in the hands of those that don’t have it. The Corbin School District is no stranger to NTI as they have been implementing this work for five years. Cox said their food service program has been feeding 500 individuals per day. Several churches are helping with the feeding. Cox announced funding to feed students over the weekend.
Any parent or student with concerns may call 528-1303.
While the primary focus is academics, Cox reminded his students, teachers, parents and guardians of mental health importance.
Any student or individual that needs counseling can call these hotlines 866-393-6659, 800-448-4663 or the Trillium Center 523-5900.
Knox County Judge Executive Mike Mitchell spoke about the resiliency of the Tri-County people as well as showed support for Gov. Beshear. He praised the medical field and called on the citizens to adapt during this time.
Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White Jr. echoed much of the above.
White emphasized comfort during this time reminding residents that services are still continuing. The courthouse has remained open this week but will close at the end of day Friday. If anyone needs assistance White said individuals can call his office at 606-549-600 as well as encourages using the CDC website as a reference.
Whitley County Clerk Carolyn Willis said vehicle registrations can be paid online or mailed in however there is a 90-day extension.
Gary Barton, Whitley County Circuit Court Clerk, who handles driver's licenses is constantly receiving updates from both Frankfort and the Supreme Court. His office remains open although it is operating with a skeleton crew. Barton said for those with a driver’s license about to expire, it will have it wait. Barton went on to say law enforcement will not issue tickets, if they do his office along with the county attorney will handle that. Barton advises phone calls over walk in questions. For more information or questions for Barton call 528-0099.
Corbin City Manager Marlon Sams noted the Corbin Recycling Center will shut down. The playgrounds in Corbin for now are open but Sams asked that social distancing be practiced even on the playground.