EDP wants to help get accurate COVID info to the public

The Boyle County Economic Development Partnership wants to get involved with Boyle Health Department Director Brent Blevins to help get the most recent and accurate COVID-19 information out to the public.

During EDP’s executive committee meeting on Wednesday City Manager Earl Coffey said he was “lamenting over the lack of public information that we have access to that is being distributed. … The city and county don’t. We don’t receive direct communication on COVID updates. We just don’t.”

Coffey added, “The governor’s office does update, but the health department has the information and we have to figure out a way to get all the information out of the health department without being a burden for those folks that are just trying to keep up right now.”

Board co-chair Mike Perros said, “I would not want to be in his (Blevins’) position at this time. He’s getting it from all sides, and he’s the innocent party in all of this.”

Then he added, “We can communicate whatever information the health department gets us. The problem is, it’s not accurate information and so what do you put out to the public? Do you put out information as you know it, even though it’s inaccurate information? I’m not sure that actually doesn’t exacerbate the problem.”

Co-chair Marty Gibson said, “This seems to be the pattern for all other things COVID related.” The example he gave was how the government is telling banks how to handle COVID relief payments sent to closed accounts.

Gibson added, “They literally flip flopped every other day since last week. I got five emails yesterday that changed the guidance three times in one day.”

Board member and Chamber of Commerce Director Jeff Jewel said, “It seems like a lot of other counties are doing much better jobs of reporting how people are … There might be some reporting issues that are playing into the numbers not being correct.”

“There are some problems. The health department, I’m sure, is doing the best job they can, but we definitely need some outgoing communications and things.”

Jewell said, “When there’s an information vacuum, stuff fills up that vacuum that’s really bad and a lot of it is misinformation.”

Perros then asked Jewell to contact who he knows in an other county “and get some specifics how are they getting data, how they can ensure that it’s accurate data, how are they reporting that information. If you can get some of those ideas, maybe we can be of assistance here.”

EDP Executive Director Jody Lassiter said he would send a “goodwill” email to Blevins and Ephraim McDowell Health President and CEO Dan McKay “just to offer our resources to broaden the communications.”

Lassiter said, “Maybe by offering to be some sort of conduit and take a little bit of heat off of them, obviously we’re not a public health service, the fact is, if we can get the information out, maybe they can give us some sort of a regular update each Friday, or whatever the case may be … and we can get the information out to our partners.”

Jewell also suggested that the EDP could collect the health department’s raw data “we can even help them format it, whatever would be to help them, take a little reporting off of them, as long as we have accurate data.”

Lassiter said, “I will do everything I can to help Brent (Blevins.)”

By Thursday afternoon, the health department and EMH had taken up the EDP’s offer of assistance to get information about the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations to the public. In a social media post the Chamber reported that the health department had provided 600 vaccines to healthcare and first responders and EMH had reported it would have provided 1,600 vaccines for its employees by the end of this week.

Also, the health department is waiting for Gov. Andy Beshear to open vaccination sites for the public once enough doses are made available.