Nelson County Prepares for Coronavirus Outbreak


Leaders Urge Community Cooperation and Participation


Bardstown, KY, March 13, 2020 - This morning at Bardstown City Hall, local leaders met for a second time to share updates regarding preparedness in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in Nelson County. Representatives from local schools, law enforcement, EMS, fire departments, the county jail, and local health organizations shared plans they have implemented to limit the spread of the coronavirus. At this time, there are 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, but no confirmed cases within Nelson County.



Bardstown City Schools Superintendent Ryan Clark, Bethlehem High School Principal Tom Hamilton, and Nelson County School Superintendent Wes Bradley reported this morning that all local school districts, including Bardstown, Nelson County, and local parochial schools have elected to cancel regular classes for two weeks and implement “non-traditional instruction.”


  • For Bardstown and Bethlehem, students will not return to school until after Spring Break has ended on Monday, April 13th.
  • Nelson County schools will close for two weeks between Tuesday, March 17th and Friday, March 27th.


All school programs and after-school activities, including sporting events, are cancelled until schools reopen. However, both Bardstown and Nelson County schools will continue their school lunch program. They will provide information on these programs, as well as any plans to extend the period of non-traditional instruction through their websites and social media pages.



Bardstown Mayor J. Richard Heaton expressed the need for community cooperation and teamwork during this time, saying: “One of the best ways we can contain this is by reducing social interactions. It’s a major sacrifice and hardship, but this is unprecedented in our community, our nation, and around the world.” Mayor Heaton and Nelson County Judge Executive Dean Watts have recommended that for at least the next two weeks, all gatherings of more than 50 people in Nelson County be cancelled in order to prevent spreading the virus.



At the meeting, much discussion centered around healthcare facilities and services becoming strained by overly-concerned citizens. EMS Director Joe Prewitt reported that over the past week there has been a large increase in calls to 911, as well as visits to the ER for non-life-threatening symptoms, such as fevers, nausea, and coughing. Prewitt explained that Nelson County EMS retains four ambulances, only one of which has a ventilator. These need to be reserved for life-threatening emergencies.


At a press conference following the meeting, Mayor Heaton noted that first responders have been “working diligently to get plans in place, but at the end of the day, this is going to be up to the public to do their part, not just on the agencies providing services.” He added “Our attitude should be ‘this is about us. All of us. And not “me.”’ Every citizen has to have that attitude. And with everyone’s help, we’re going to get through this.”


The Lincoln Trail District Health Department has created a step-by-step guide to help citizens determine when to seek medical care, and when to simply stay home. 


According to Lincoln Trail:


  • If you are simply worried, you should stay home. Going to a hospital or doctor’s office adds to a higher concentration of people and further overwhelms medical staff. 
  • If you are ill but would not have sought care if not for COVID-19, do not seek care at an emergency room, hospital, or doctor’s office. If you want advice, please call the Kentucky Public Health Hotline at 1-800-722-5725 or call your regular doctor. 
  • If you are sick and feel you have an emergency, you should call your doctor or seek medical care. Hospitals and medical staff across the commonwealth stand ready to serve you.

For updates regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, as well as other resources and information regarding the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website, the Lincoln Trail District Health Department’s website, or the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s website devoted to coronavirus information,