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COVID-19 became personal for Rocky Adkins after father’s bout

Nearly everybody in Kentucky knows someone who has suffered from the coronavirus, and that includes the top level of Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration.

Rocky Adkins, the former long-time state lawmaker who ran against Beshear in the 2019 Democratic gubernatorial primary and now serves as senior advisor to the governor, says his 84-year-old father, Jess Adkins, a 50-year public educator, has had a serious bout with COVID-19.

He said the virus struck his dad very quickly. “In two-and-a-half days, he could not get himself off the couch to the bed. My son had to carry him and help him. This is how vicious this virus can be.”

Adkins says ever since the first case was reported in Kentucky on March 6, he always took seriously what Gov. Beshear and State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said about the coronavirus, but even more so a little more than two weeks ago when it became extremely personal.

“On August 3, I got a call from my son who said, ‘Your dad is not feeling well.’ My son lives just beside my father, who lives, and you’ve heard me talk a lot about the left-hand fork of Middle Fork, in one of the most rural areas of Kentucky.”

Adkins says on Aug. 6, his son Brandon drove Jess Adkins to St. Clair Medical Center in Morehead, where he tested positive for COVID-19. After a day-and-a-half, he was then taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center. His son, who drove his dad to the hospital, also tested positive, but was asymptomatic. Adkins says the rest of his family has been tested twice since then, but all came out negative, and Brandon still has no symptoms.

“I’m happy to report to you that I got a call Tuesday morning from UK Medical Center that they were moving my father from the hospital to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Center in Lexington,” Adkins said. “Folks, that’s good news that my dad is going to rehab, then we’re going to return him home to take care of his garden, with tomatoes, corn and green beans that the rest of our family has been taking care of.”

Adkins says, as a cancer survivor himself, the cruel thing about this virus is that it separates people instead of bringing people together. “I can’t go see my dad. I’ve not been in the presence of my father for over three months. When you can’t see your grandchildren, when you can’t see your own children, you can’t be with friends, it’s part of the sacrifice of us really defeating this virus.”

He says he went public with his father’s experience for some good reasons.

“I wanted to give this personal testimony today and this very personal story to hopefully reach somebody across Kentucky. First of all to tell you – by phone call or by someone – check on your neighbors. Check on your neighbor. Make sure they’re OK.

“Second of all, follow the guidelines. The protocols, the orders, all of these things that none of us may like, but appreciate and respect what’s being handed down,” Adkins said. “There will be time for debate on all of this, but I’m telling you, for now, for Jess Adkins, for an 84-year-old man who will tell you as soon as he can to wear your mask, to wash your hands, to stay away from crowds, to social distance, all of that.”