Somerset testing site moved, judge sees decrease in crime

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District Judge Katie Slone, left, Judge Executive Steve Kelley during Friday's community update.

SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ) – The free drive-through coronavirus testing site next week in Pulaski County has been moved from the Kroger parking lot to the parking lot of the Center for Rural Development, Judge Executive Steve Kelley announced Friday.

Meanwhile, one of the judges serving Pulaski County says she’s seen a decline in crime since the coronavirus pandemic shut down many activities.

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The testing is next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is part of a partnership between the state and Kroger and originally was scheduled or the Kroger parking lot in Somerset. But because of logistics, county leaders decided the Rural Development parking lot at 2292 U.S. Highway 27 would provide better control and management, Kelley said during his regular online community briefing Friday.

The state hopes to do 1,000 tests of residents from Pulaski and surrounding counties during the three days.

People must have symptoms or meet other criteria to be tested and they must register in an advance and get an appointment. Information and appointments can be made at www.krogerhealth.com or https://www.thelittleclinic.com/drivethru-testing.

Kelley also said the county now has had a total of 34 cases, including two deaths. Another 24 people have recovered and the remaining eight are in self isolation.

And although the county has seen a “flattening of the curve” in terms of new cases, he urged residents to stay the course.

“Don’t get lulled to sleep,” he warned.

Meanwhile, District Judge Katie Slone, who was a guest during the briefing, said she has seen a decrease in crime, at least based on the number of initial appearances and bonds she’s had to do via computer in the last five weeks.

And she praised the clerks and court personnel for their rapid response to closure orders last month which changed the way the courts operated. She said the computer systems now used by jails and jailers have worked almost “flawlessly” and have protected the rights of suspects and everyone’s health.

In addition, jailers are keeping new arrestees separate from people who have been in jail so people who might have the virus or bring it in don’t commingle with people already in jail.

“It’s been working out pretty well,” Slone said of the arrangement, where people charged are brought in front of a computer and she speaks to them and their attorney if there is one via video links.

She said this week, even though it was coming out of a holiday weekend, she hardly handled any cases.

“On a holiday weekend we’d usually do 12 or 14 bonds. It’s as low as I’ve ever seen it,” she said of crime activity.

As for when court might reopen and her thoughts on when and how that and the rest of the economy should proceed, the judge urged caution.

First, the state Supreme Court issued an order keeping limits on court activity until May 31 and she said she “could see” that being extended into June.

As for the rest of society, she says other countries offer some lessons.

“I’ve been watching China this week. They reopened with a big celebration and everything after 76 days and now they are seeing cases going back up…that concerns me,” she said.

She said the coronavirus is and will continue to pose new legal issues and questions for the courts, from an increase in mental health issues to braoder constitutional questions.

“This si something we’ve never seen before,” she said, citing everything from the right to speedy trials to issues about illegal taking of a business.

“It’s a fine line to walk,” Kelley said of the decisions leaders are having to make. “It’s a tough situation to be in, every action is important to everyone.”