Over the past two weeks, school cancellations have been widespread due to an influenza outbreak in both Johnson County Schools and Paintsville Independent Schools.

According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s statewide flu activity report, the state’s current flu activity level, submitted weekly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is defined as widespread. This means that outbreaks of the flu or influenza-like illness cases and recent lab confirmed diagnoses have spread across at least half of the regions in Kentucky.

While the report so far shows only 12 confirmed cases of the flu in Johnson County for the 2020 flu season, Johnson County Health Department representative Mary Beth Castle stated that this data may not accurately reflect the flu epidemic in the community.

“I don’t think that all numbers are being reported,” said Castle.

In response to the flu outbreak, superintendents from both school districts issued statements on the measures their schools are taking to combat the highly contagious illness.

“It is my hope that these days off will enable those that are healthy to remain so,” said Johnson County Schools Superintendent Thom Cochran, “while giving sick students and staff an opportunity to recuperate and heal. Even though our custodians sanitize facilities daily, we have taken extra precautions in sanitizing all schools with the use of two new Protexus Sanitizing Sprayers treating each classroom, locker, bathroom surface and common areas with an ultraviolet light and non toxic chemical to kill germs. I continue to ask that everyone would limit social activities taking place over the weekend so that everyone may stay healthy.”

Paintsville Independents Schools Superintendent David Gibson said his school system is taking similar measures to prevent further spread of the illness.

“The flu has impacted our students and staff over the last several days, as it has most Eastern Kentucky school systems. The well-being of our students and staff is and always will be our number one priority,” Gibson said Jan. 31. “All of our maintenance and custodial staff will be cleaning and sanitizing our schools over the next several days, especially all contact surfaces. If any of our students or staff have flu-like symptoms we encourage them to see their medical provider.”

For more information on the state’s flu activity level, visit, www.healthalerts.ky.gov.

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