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Gov. Beshear Updates Kentucky On Coronavirus

Gov. Andy Beshear during a press conference on COVID-19 at the State Capitol on February 27, 2019.
Gov. Andy Beshear during a press conference on COVID-19 at the State Capitol on February 27, 2019.

Kentucky health officials have monitored more than 100 people for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, but have not yet encountered any sign of the virus.

As of Thursday, Kentucky has only tested one individual and that test came back negative, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.  Beshear said the immediate threat is low. He downplayed fears the virus would spread in the Commonwealth.

“Something like this for so many families and so many Kentuckians, it can be scary, but we want to make sure we have the right information out to let people we do not have a single confirmed case in Kentucky,” Beshear said.

All of the people who have agreed to self-monitor for signs of the virus in Kentucky have traveled from mainland China, he said. The state is not currently taking similar steps for 40 other countries where the virus is spreading including South Korea, Italy, Japan and France.

Beshear said that’s because the risk to people traveling in those countries is “low at this time.”

“We are prepared to monitor anyone who we think has traveled to these countries if it becomes necessary,” he said.

Those under the 14-day self-monitoring period have signed an agreement with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services that restricts movement. Once a day, they’re required to text, call or email their temperatures to monitor for signs of fever. Violators could be put in jail for violating the terms of the agreement.

Kentucky does not currently have the ability to test for COVID-19 on its own and is sending tests to the CDC. A state health official said the CDC has committed to a 24-hour turnaround time.

With little more than two months to go before the Kentucky Derby and even less before the Keeneland 2020 Spring Meet, Beshear said it is still too early to make any inferences about possible impacts on the events.

“Given the fact that we’ve had no one confirmed, I think this is a wait and watch, but I wouldn’t make or suggest any drastic steps,” he said.

The Beshear administration has setup a website that promises regular updates on the virus’ status in Kentucky. Beshear reiterated the state is working closely with local health departments to relay information and coordinate action.

The governor stressed that people must take personal responsibility to prevent transmission through hand washing, covering coughs and taking time away from work and school if feeling sick.

The virus known as SARS-CoV-2 causes a respiratory disease COVID-19 with symptoms that include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called this novel coronavirus a “serious public health threat,” which could lead to disruptions in everyday life, including the closures of schools, businesses and large gatherings.

As of Wednesday, the World Health Organization has confirmed more than 81,100 cases of the virus with only about 3,000 of those occurring outside China.



Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.

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