Published on March 07, 2020

State confirms first case of Coronavirus

By James Mayse and Jacob Mulliken, Messenger-Inquirer

Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Andy Beshear took to Facebook to inform Kentuckians that the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) had been discovered in Lexington.

The patient, according to Beshear, was “found positive for the virus as a result from a test kit at the state lab.”

Threat to Kentuckians is still low

According to Beshear, the results from the lab arrived earlier on Friday and the patient, who has not been identified, is currently being treated in isolation. Despite Friday’s news, Beshear believes that the “threat to Kentuckians is still low,” he said.

Clay Horton, public health director for the Green River District Health Department, said the agency has been having meetings with other local area health officials throughout the week to stay updated on the virus.

“We expected to see cases at this point,” Horton said Friday evening. “It’s just a matter of when. ...We still believe the general public has a relatively low risk.”

The state has set up a hotline for people to receive information about the virus. The hotline is 800-222-1222.

Although Beshear also said the overall threat to Kentuckians was low, the state was taking “every necessary action” to combat the highly contagious virus.

“About five minutes ago, I filed a state of emergency so that we would have every tool we could need to address this issue and ultimately protect our people. We have activated the Emergency Operations Center and are currently at level four, which is our lowest level.”

Locally, health officials believe that, if the virus appears in Owensboro-Daviess County, that they are prepared, said Brian Hamby, Owensboro Health Regional Hospital spokesman.

“We are in touch with the health department and local officials almost daily,” he said. “I can’t say that today’s news activates any action phase, but its presence in Kentucky does make us double down on our infection prevention guidelines and procedures. If there was a case here, we would immediately be in touch with all entities and local agencies. We feel we are prepared for this. We feel we are ready.”

Horton said the best advice is for people to practice good hygiene, by frequently washing their hands, cover sneezes and to avoid touching your face. People who are ill should also stay home from work or school, and should avoid public events.

“It’s the same advice we give for the flu,” Horton said.

People who have concerns about possible contact with coronavirus “should follow up with their healthcare provider,” Horton said. Call your physician first, Horton said.

“The healthcare provider may be able to rule it out over the phone,” Horton said.

The health department and other agencies “have our plans in place,” Horton said. “The biggest thing we can do is let the public know there is no reason to panic.”

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.