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Coronavirus, or COVID-19, officially hit Kentucky in the last week, but the current risk for COVID-19 for people in Kentucky is low, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
“Stay calm. There is no reason to panic. We are all going to get through this,” said Gov. Andy Beshear in a press conference on Tuesday.
Beshear said that the novel coronavirus is spreading through person-to-person in the community.
There are zero known COVID-19 cases or persons under investigation in Adair County said Emergency Management Director Mike Keltner.
As of Wednesday morning, eight positive coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Kentucky with 54 people being tested. The number of coronavirus cases in Kentucky is being monitored and updated constantly at kycovid.ky.gov.
Beshear stated that three cases in Harrison County are a 27-year-old woman, a 67-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man, with an additional two more cases announced Tuesday with unknown ages of those patients. Beshear said that all five cases are linked.
Two cases in Fayette County include a 49-year-old man and a 46-year-old man. The one case in Jefferson County is a 69-year-old man.
All eight patients remain in isolation and are being cared for. Some are being isolated in their homes while they receive care.
Beshear recommended Wednesday morning that all Kentuckians should avoid crowds and large gatherings, including church services, asking church leaders to consider canceling services for at least this week.
He asked school districts to develop plans to close schools on short notice and stated that it’s very possible that in the future they’re going to have to ask schools in Kentucky to close down for a period of time.
On Tuesday, Beshear recommended all nursing homes prohibit visitors.
Columbia’s Signature Healthcare at Summit Manor has temporarily suspendered visiting hours and no individual will be allowed to come into the facility except for certain situations, such as end-of-life situations. Anyone who enters will be screened for illness and there will only be one point of entry and exit.
Summit Manor will offer virtual communications such as phone or video-communication for people who would have otherwise visited.
According to WLKY in Louisville, Berea College has cancelled the spring semester and is having all students to vacate campus.
Berea College President Lyle Roelofs said in a news release issued Tuesday that this is due to the school being unable to adequately assure student and employee safety in the circumstance of a case of COVID-19 on campus.
WLKY also reports that under Beshear’s administration, an emergency management center has been activated and changes to Medicaid have been implemented to make sure everyone can get care and testing and that Beshear filed an executive order to waive copays and other costs for most private insurers.
Beshear recommended that Kentuckians use guidance provided by Kentucky’s COVID-19 website, kycovid19.ky.gov, and also recommended that Kentuckians over 60 years old to not fly or get on cruise ships.
People most likely at risk for COVID-19 are those who are in close contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 infection, including healthcare workers, and those who have traveled in the past 14 days in countries with ongoing community spread of the virus.
Kentucky’s COVID-19 website has a small list of current community guidance for social distancing in the state, which reads:
“If you are 60 years old or older and/or have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney failure or other chronic major medical conditions, we recommend you avoid densely populated community events.
“We are advising nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to restrict visitors to their facilities.
“We recommend people actively plan for telework options appropriate for their situation and support all workers/students to stay at home if they are ill.
“Only go to the emergency department for an illness that would have taken you to the hospital before the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have a runny nose, cough, fever or other common respiratory infection symptoms, take Tylenol or Motrin-like products and stay home from work or school until you are fever-free. If you think you need medical care, please contact your healthcare provider for their instruction or visit an emergency department if you believe you have an emergency.”
To learn more about COVID-19, check out CDC information and recommendations about COVID-19 at cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Washington state has one of the highest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country.
As of press time, the Washington State Department of Health had 267 total cases and 24 deaths.
The News Tribune in Washington State provided details about how Gov. Jay Inslee and health officials are handling COVID-19 within the state in an online news article.
Visitation at nursing homes and assisted living facilities now has specific restrictions from Inslee.
Gov. Inslee addressed questions about closing other public functions.
“We are considering policies in that regard. We are doing what we should do in consideration. We are looking at the most recent epidemiological research available…We are talking to the communities and leaders and public health experts.
“I would not be shocked if we had some more news on that in the next few days,” Inslee said.
Measures are being taken to deep clean public facilities in the state such as the Tacoma Dome. Some colleges have cancelled in-person courses and some P-12 schools have closed intermittently for cleaning. The Special Olympics in Washington state has suspended all activities until March 31. MultiCare Health System implemented restrictions on visitors to its hospitals.
The News Tribune also states that Inslee announced the expansion of state policies to support workers and businesses financially impacted by COVID-19.
Workers will be able to get unemployment benefits and employers will get relief of benefit charges if they need to curtail or shut down operations temporarily because a worker becomes sick and other workers need to be isolated or quarantined.
“The first and best option for workers who need to miss work due to illness or quarantine is to use their employer-provided paid time off,” said Suzi LeVine, commissioner of the Employment Security Department.
Inslee also announced that all state employees impacted by COVID-19 would receive additional leave and telework options.
By Anna Buckman