Lexington mayor announces seventh death, asks businesses to help medical community

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The city has implemented a hiring freeze and curbed other spending in anticipation of revenue shortfalls and Mayor Linda Gorton is asking for help from the business community to supply PPEs to the medical community for the expected increase in coronavirus cases.

And Gorton announced the death of another city resident, bringing to seven who have died in the last month from the coronavirus.

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“They are among the heroes. they deserve” to have all the equipment they need,” Gorton said during a press conference Monday morning.

She asked all businesses to review their equipment and first aid kits for masks, gloves and other items that could potentially be donated. She also asked any manufacturing company that might be able to retool its processes to make some items to do so.

“Thanks to dozens of businesses that have already stepped forward,” Gorton said. “We still need more help, especially in the production of personal protective equipment, or PPE, and ventilators. There are critical weeks ahead, when demand for PPE is going to climb along with the number of cases. Now is the time for every citizen to think about how he or she can be of the most help.”

“This is their greatest need right now,” she said of PPEs and how the medical community is trying to prepare for a potential surge during the next two to three weeks.

So far, the city’s Department of Health has distributed 284,000 masks, including 70,000 N95, and 2,000 boxes of gloves, from shipments it has received, Health Director Dr. Kraig Humbaugh said.

“We all need to put our oars in the water and row this boat,” Gorton said, calling the coming days and weeks “literally a matter of life and death.”

Lexington Commerce President Ray Daniels said individuals or companies can cal 311 or the mayor’s office at 859-258-3100 to make donations or coordinate production.

Daniels, owner of Equity Solutions and Vice Chair of the Board of Fayette County Public Schools, urged the business community to step forward.

“In Lexington we have already heard from many generous corporate citizens, but this is a time when we need all hands on deck,” he said.

As for the city’s budget and revenues, Gorton said the administration limited spending and took other steps three weeks ago.

City services are funded largely by income taxes and business taxes. Both will be down significantly from March and likely even more in April, if not, longer, she said.

City leaders are tracking revenue forecasts from a variety of experts, including the University of Kentucky, but do not yet have firm numbers, although those should come this week.

“The third quarter (January-March) should be fairly healthy, the fourth quarter will be the difficult part,” she said.

The city’s budget year runs from July 1 through June 30. City leaders will approve a new budget in June.

Humbaugh said it was too early to tell whether the city is seeing a spike.

“We have a couple of days where the numbers are up and a couple where they are down. A couple of days are not enough of a trend,” he said, echoing the mayor’s plea for the community to continue to practice social distancing and other isolation steps to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.