MADISON COUNTY, Ly. (LEX 18) — The Madison County Health Department organized "Thankful Thursday" to get more people vaccinated while helping local food banks.
Spokesperson Kelley McBride says the goal was to use the event as an opportunity for Madison County residents to donate to local food banks before Thanksgiving and to demonstrate gratitude to local healthcare professionals by receiving either an initial COVID-19 vaccine or a booster vaccine.
"Our elected officials were asking what the best way would be to express gratitude to our healthcare professionals, the folks that we were calling healthcare heroes. And so, I said, 'Well, I'll ask a few of the nurses that I have contact with,' and without fail they said, 'We love everything, all the gestures that have been made for us already, but what would help us out the most is for people to get their COVID-19 vaccinations,'" said McBride.
Residents drove up to the drive-through clinic at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Richmond from 2-6 p.m. on Thursday with their canned food in tow to donate.
"I saw that on the health department's Facebook page they were doing 'Thankful Thursday,' so I told some friends about it, and I have some spaghetti sauce and noodles to donate," said native Anna Fry.
Occurring one week before Thanksgiving, McBride says any donations they collect for local food banks are crucial.
"We're sharing the wealth with everybody. Whatever donations we received today, we will share equally among all the food pantries," said McBride.
Madison County's vaccination percentage is 50%.
COVID cases have declined for seven straight weeks in Kentucky, but the latest spike fueled by the delta variant led to a dramatic increase in deaths, which some counties are seeing the effects of now.
Madison county is averaging about 10 new COVID-19-related deaths per week. The first week of November there were a total of 160 deaths. The following week 16 more deaths were reported. This week, 11 new deaths were reported.
"Several weeks ago, we did experience increases in cases. And so, following an increase in cases, there are usually increases in deaths," explained McBride.
Elected officials, law enforcement, fire departments, the Blue Grass Army Depot, the Kentucky National Guard, Berea College, EKU, Madison County Emergency Management, and other representatives of all three local government agencies joined to support the event.
"We are all weary of our circumstances over the last year and a half," said McBride. "Doing something kind is always good medicine for a weary heart. This is an opportunity to practice gratitude in a tangible way."