CORONAVIRUS: Ninth case may be from Rowan, prison visitation halted, churches urged to cancel services
MOREHEAD, Ky. (WTVQ)- A ninth case of the coronavirus disease in Kentucky may be in Rowan County.
The city of Morehead posted on its Facebook page that “St. Claire Regional Medical Center evaluated its first patient meeting possible criteria for coronavirus infection (COVID-19)” Tuesday evening. The patient was transferred to another facility.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andy Beshear announced new changes and procedures Wednesday morning in response to the virus. But he did not announce any additional cases so far in the state.
The city of Morehead and health officials in Rowan County assured residents they had been preparing for the possibility.
“Please be assured St. Claire has the facilities and the expertise to care for patients, while protecting the safety of all of our patients, visitors and staff. Our staff is trained and has maintained a state of continual readiness. In addition, staff is given personal protective equipment when caring for any patient suspected of having an infectious disease,” the statement read.
“A number of St. Claire staff members and first responders were in close contact with this individual. While this patient is not yet confirmed to have COVID-19, we are taking all necessary precautions as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” it continued.
Residents were urged to call the State COVID-19 Hotline at 800-722-5725 or visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
No other details have been provided on the Rowan County patient.
The governor will have more test results late this afternoon.
During his regular morning press conference Wednesday morning, Beshear announced the state is stopping visitation to prison inmates. The state will provide an extra phone call and ways to meet with relatives via social media.
“I know it’s not the same, but we know they care about their loved ones,” Beshear said.
“We know this is community spread disease at this point so we are taking all the steps we can to keep it from spreading within communities,” he said.
The governor said the state also is urging churches to cancel services this weekend. Most denominations are in the Lenten season leading up to Easter and Beshear said he knows that will be a concern. He said one reason he is encouraging the move is because older adults are among the largest groups of church-goers.
He has canceled non-essential travel for state workers, especially out of state travel and he is urging businesses to do the same. He also strongly urged employers to allow more telework to keep people out of the workplace.
He has canceled his prayer breakfast this week as part of an effort for people to avoid large groups of people. He is closing the cafeteria seating in the state Capitol to avoid large groups.
He stopped short of telling people to cancel events, such as the Sweet 16 high school state basketball championships.
In those cases, he stressed caution and proper hygiene.
And he and his staff are urging schools to be able to respond quickly.
“It’s very possible we’ll have to ask to schools to close down temporarily,” Beshear said.The governor is expected to give another update Wednesday morning.
He encouraged people to follow the “six foot social distance.” That can be effective with events and even school classes, spreading people out to avoid close contact.
Beshear announced Tuesday evening Kentucky’s total number of coronavirus cases has grown to eight. Four are in hospitals and four are isolated at home.
All eight are improving and two are “almost through this,” he said Wednesday.
The total number of cases has grown almost everyday since the governor announced the first confirmed case Friday. Beshear says that is expected and Kentucky is prepared. As of Tuesday night’s press conference, the official count remained at eight with the two newest cases coming in Harrison County.
Those patients are a 60-year-old male and a 54-year-old female, both in isolation, according to Beshear.
“As we continue to prepare and respond, everybody should remain calm and know we are ready for this,” the governor said. “Our local health departments are ready for this. The state is ready for this. We will get through this and we will get through this together. When we take a step that creates difficulty and disrupts our lives, understand that it is to protect our fellow citizens.”
The state says it has received results for 54 cases with 46 of those being negative. Eighteen of the 20 results received Tuesday were negative.
The governor says the five people who have tested positive from Harrison County are all connected, but not through the Walmart where the 27-year-old woman first confirmed to have the virus works.
UK Healthcare says that woman first entered care in critical condition, but is now listed in fair condition.
Of the eight cases:
Harrison County: three females, 27, 54 and 67; two males, 60 and 68
Fayette County: both males, ages 46 and 49
Jefferson County: 69-year-old male
The governor announced Tuesday visitation at state senior care and long-term care facilities will be limited to protect older people, who are one of the most at risk groups.
Gov. Beshear also signed an executive order to allow pharmacies to refill prescriptions for up to 30 days to ensure people will have needed prescriptions. His action will also allow, if necessary, pharmacies to operate at locations other than those designated on their permits.
The State Health Operations Center is activated at level one – fully activated – and the State Emergency Operations Center is also activated.