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Beshear recommends all Kentucky schools close for two weeks

Posted: 6:01 PM, Mar 12, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-12 18:01:39-04
Virus Outbreak-Kentucky

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story and see our ongoing coronavirus coverage here.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 during a Thursday afternoon news conference and recommended all Kentucky schools close between March 16-27.

It was a suggestion, not an order like the one issued two hours earlier in Ohio, but Beshear said it applied to all K-12 schools in the state. He added he would send his own 9- and 10-year-old children to school Friday so they could pick up the materials they would need for the extended break.

“Let me say that this is a necessary step,” he said. “It’s not one that should evoke fear. We’re going to get through this.”

The two new cases are in Jefferson and Fayette counties, according to Beshear. One patient is quarantined at home; the other has been hospitalized. He did not provide additional demographic information.

Three labs are now performing coronavirus tests: LabCorp, the University of Louisville and the Kentucky state lab.

Beshear again encouraged Kentuckians to obey their common sense, practice good hygiene and avoid person-to-person interaction to limit the spread of the virus.

“I do not believe that whether you go to church this weekend is a test of faith,” he said. “I believe that God gives us wisdom, and that wisdom compels both our medical experts and myself to recommend you stay away from large crowds.”

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:

Ohio

  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.

Kentucky

  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.

Indiana

  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail epiresource@isdh.in.gov
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 45 countries across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.