Buchanon outlines pandemic challenges ahead

According to Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon, perhaps the biggest victory to be won in the coronavirus pandemic will be over the people who refuse to follow the rules and recommendations.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily News on Friday, Buchanon discussed the evolution of his thoughts on the virus, his frustrations and how those who refuse to social distance and follow other guidelines make it harder to fight against a virus that has infected more than 350 people in Warren County and caused more than 65,000 deaths nationally.

When it comes to the pandemic’s influence on society, he hears it from various sides.

“I get calls each day saying I have sold out to the propaganda, that it’s a sham and I should be ashamed of myself. Then I get people who are scared to death,” he said. “We don’t need to be in either place.”

He said that dealing with the pandemic has been almost his sole focus for several months now. In his 27 years as Warren County’s judge-executive, “I’ve never been so busy. It’s a fluid situation with so many moving parts,” he said.

The coronavirus eclipses any natural disaster or other crisis he has encountered, he said, and his frustrations stem in a large part because “no one is in control of the situation. The individual is in control.”

He said government and health officials can continually advise people to social distance, practice good hygiene and take other preventive steps, “but if you have 5 percent who think it is a joke or a sham” it frustrates the efforts of the vast majority of Kentuckians who are following the guidelines, he said. “We do have to accept the fact that we are in a global pandemic.”

Buchanon said he has gotten reports of unrelated people carpooling to other counties for work and then returning without quarantining, violating requirements set by Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order.

Buchanon said that while he believes in a person’s constitutional rights, those rights don’t allow anyone “to infringe on the health and safety of everyone else … it’s frustrating. We do need to get back to work, but we need 100 percent cooperation of citizens,” he said. Otherwise, the virus “will continue to spread.”

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