After two days of increases in the county's coronavirus count, the Madison County Health Department reported no new known cases as of 2 p.m. Thursday. The county's total confirmed cases of the virus remained at 12.
This comes just one day after state lawmakers approved the state's one-year budget, which froze rising pension obligations for quasi-governmental agencies, such as the health department, at 49%.
Dustin Pugel, a senior analyst with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said this was a good deed and was most critical for health departments during this time.
"There was a lot of concern about pension costs rising and the payroll," Pugel told The Register. "This was one of the best things the legislature could have done for responding to the coronavirus."
Nancy Crewe, the director of the Madison County Health Department, agreed.
"We are grateful that local health departments and other quasi-governmental organizations will continue to make pension contributions at a lower rate of 49% of pay, as we have for the last two years," she said.
"This budget gives us a respite in dealing with the funding challenges that previous pension legislation proposals would have presented. We know our response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the valuable role that local health departments play in their communities. After this emergency is over, we hope what we do to protect the public’s health and environment is not forgotten."
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the local health department stood to lose millions of dollars with their new pension obligation and had cut back 21 employees to help save money.
Quasi-governmental agencies include domestic violence shelters, mental health care facilities and regional universities, all of which are crucial during the worldwide outbreak.
"I really think that was one of the most important parts of the state's budget," Pugel said. "I am really pleased to see that they did that.