Judge Ruckel declares state of emergency

Judge Executive Todd Ruckel has declared a state of emergency for Lewis County.

Judge Executive Todd Ruckel has declared a state of emergency for Lewis County in response to the health threat surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Ruckel made the declaration Monday morning.

He said the decision was made after careful consideration of all of the available information and the threat to our vulnerable population in Lewis County.

Ruckel said the local declaration follows declarations of emergency at both the state and federal levels.

“This decision was not made lightly,” Ruckel said. “This is a serious threat to the citizens of our county, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health issues who are more vulnerable to the virus.”

The declaration provides emergency powers to the judge executive as outlined in state law (KRS 39A, KRS 39B) and will remain in effect until lifted.

Ruckel said the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on March 11.

Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency for Kentucky on March 6 and President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency on March 13.

The local emergency declaration states the “continual spread of the virus is of utmost concern, especially to the elderly and those with vulnerable immune systems.”

Ruckel says having the declaration in place will save valuable time if emergency steps must be taken in dealing with a local outbreak of the infection and will help in securing additional state and federal resources if needed.

Ruckel said county offices will remain open but asks that citizens limit visits for needed business only and requests that only those persons who are necessary to conduct that business enter the county offices.

“It is vitally important that the employees of our county agencies remain healthy to continue to conduct important business,” Ruckel said. “I’m asking our residents to make a telephone call before making a personal visit to see if the business can be conducted electronically or over the phone, or delayed until conditions improve.”

Ruckel said with the quickly evolving situation, the decision to close county offices could be made without notice.

He said the steps taken here, and across Kentucky, are an attempt to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus spread.

Flattening the curve refers to spreading the inevitable march of the disease out over a longer period, so that fewer people are sick at a time, rather than overwhelming hospitals and emergency response by taking no action, which can result in a higher number of infections over a shorter period of time.

The term comes from mapping the results of taking preventative action, and taking no action, along a graphed curve. When no action is taken, a significant spike in cases occurs over a shorter period.

“My concern is that we will exceed the capacity of our health providers and facilities if we don’t slow down the spread of this disease,” Ruckel said.

“We have taken bold steps at all levels to keep the spread of this coronavirus in check,” he said. “We must follow the recommendations of health professionals for the good of all of our citizens.”

“I want us here in Lewis County to have every option available to address this issue and protect our citizens,” he said.

“Our local health and emergency officials assure me they are prepared and this declaration will provide another tool we can use in protecting our residents,” Ruckel stated.

He asks residents to exercise common sense and be mindful of those more at risk when contracting the virus.

Note: The Lewis County Herald has removed the paywall on our online coverage of COVID-19 related stories, providing critical information to our readers.

To support continued vital reporting such as this, please consider a subscription starting at less than 30 cents-a-week.

Further access is available to digital and full access subscribers only.
Log In Subscribe