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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reports three more coronavirus cases in the Commonwealth

Beshear says he tested negative
Posted: 4:07 PM, Mar 15, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-15 21:54:57-04
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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.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced three more confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Commonwealth Sunday and said he recently tested negative for the illness.

Beshear said he took the test after attending an event in Louisville and learning that another attendee had since tested positive.

At a news briefing, Beshear did not announce any major new closings or restrictions, but the governor did say he is prepared to take any actions he deems necessary, such as closing bars and restaurants like Ohio did Sunday, if cases increase significantly.

"I'm not going to be the governor that acted two weeks too late," he said.

WATCH Beshear's briefing here.

Citing an example of recklessness, Beshear implored Kentuckians to practice social distancing and limit contact with others.

"This weekend we saw instances of hundreds of people going into one bar or one club," Beshear said. "We're shutting down schools (temporarily). We have to make sure that these efforts work, and if you go out and get in a small place with a hundred-plus people, you frustrate those efforts."

Beshear noted that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said his state may close schools for the rest of the school year.

"We're not ready to recommend that, but we do think we need to be prepared for longer closures," Beshear said.

Beshear noted that he canceled the popular Prayer Breakfast on Sunday and asked churches across the state to cancel services this weekend.

"I know that's a big step and I know some won't agree with it, but I believe it's our job to offer those protections," Beshear said.

Calling one Kentuckian's actions "really irresponsible," Beshear criticized a Nelson County resident who refused to self-isolate and had to be forcibly quarantined inside the person's home after testing positive. Beshear said a sheriff's deputy has been stationed outside the home.

"I hope that attitudes can improve and this is the only time we have to do that," Beshear said.

After saying in his briefing that there were two cases, Beshear reported a third and updated the Kentucky total to 21. He said one person is "not expected to recover."

"Coronavirus is not the only factor in that individual's condition, but it is a contributing factor," Beshear said.

So far no COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Kentucky.

Also, there still are no confirmed cases in Northern Kentucky. The three new cases are in Jefferson and Clark counties. Cases now spread across seven counties: six in Harrison, six in Jefferson, five in Fayette and one each in Montgomery, Bourbon, Nelson and Clark.

Beshear promised Kentuckians, "We will work through this. We will work through this together."

Beshear issued the followed directives Saturday:

  • All Kentucky hospitals should stop elective surgeries by the end of business on Wednesday in order to limit transmission and preserve hospital space for COVID-19 patients. “The fact is that we need all the capacity that we can to deal with the cases that we believe we are going to see,” he said.
  • All childcare facilities should develop plans that would allow them to close within 72 hours of a potential future order from the state.

The Governor's office said two cases reported Saturday were "expected and related to an existing case." The confirmed cases in Kentucky ranged in age from 27 to 80 years old, Beshear said.

Beshear urged Kentuckians to self-isolate, practice good hygiene and protect each other as the virus continues to spread.

He said Kentucky's COVID-19 hotline - 1-800-722-5725 - continued to field thousands of daily calls from people concerned about their own health.

The next briefing will be at 9 a.m. Monday, Beshear said.

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 37 locations 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.