On Friday, March 6, 2020, the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Kentucky was confirmed in Harrison County. The individual, whose name has not been released, was first treated at Harrison Memorial Hospital and then airlifted to a hospital in Lexington. They were a resident in a nursing home. A team of doctors will be sent to Harrison County to figure out how the infected person contracted the virus and who they have been in contact with recently.
In response to this news, Gov. Steve Beshear declared a level 4 State of Emergency for the state of Kentucky on Friday night. Local nursing homes in the area have also stopped allowing their residents to have visitors. This is due to the fact that nursing home residents and other elderly and/or those with compromised immune systems are often the most susceptible of contracting any type of virus. In Washington State earlier this week, COVID-19’s contamination into one nursing home led to multiple deaths.
Harrison County Judge-Executive Alex Barnett, Cynthiana Mayor James Smith, and Dr. Crystal Miller of the WEDCO Health Department have been working closely together for some time, developing a plan to prepare for a possible outbreak of the virus in Harrison County. “We have been working together for over a month in preparation for this sort of situation,” Barnett said. Dr. Miller said on WEDCO’s website, “we are working closely with the State Department for Public Health, the Governor’s Office and our local elected officials on the necessary steps to keep the public protected and informed.”
Dr. Miller advises that the best thing Kentucky residents can do at this time is to wash their hands several times a day, get their flu shots, and make sure to cough or sneeze in the crooks of their elbows instead of in their hands. He also advises everyone to drink plenty of fluids and to see a family doctor if they feel poorly.
New information is being discovered about the COVID-19 virus every day. Currently, the coronavirus is thought to spread mainly between close contact. It transfers via water droplets like those expressed when coughing or sneezing. The symptoms of the virus are thought to start manifesting between 2-14 days after exposure, and can present like a cold or flu but are accompanied by fever, a cough, and shortness of breath. Although vaccination testing is underway in multiple countries around the world, it’s currently estimated that we’re over a year away from having a vaccine ready to defend against the virus.