Coronavirus Update For Sunday, March 28
UPDATE: The Mercer County Health Department has informed the Harrodsburg Herald that the man is now cooperating.
A Mercer County man who tested positive for coronavirus is refusing to tell health officials who he may have come in contact with.
Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, said the man went for testing outside Mercer County and now refuses to comply with the Mercer County Health Department’s questions as to his whereabouts and contacts.
“So it was important enough to get a test, but it was not important enough to comply with the health professionals who are now trying to keep him and everyone else safe,” Stack said Sunday. “You can’t be doing stuff like that.”
There are reports of people gathering in parks, golfing courses and the stores that remain open. Stack said there are reports of churches still meeting in other parts of the state. He said people need to exercise more caution in how they interact.
“Assume everyone around you has the coronavirus,” said Stack, who said he wasn’t trying to scare anyone, only to warn them to take common sense steps to protect themselves and others. “If you keep that six to 10 feet between you, if you keep the social distancing, you’re going to be OK.”
Stack had a request for the Mercer man.
“Just do what we’re asking you to, we’re just trying to keep you safe and use the information you thought was important enough to seek,” he said.
Readers have expressed concern about the whereabouts of people who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, especially after it was revealed that a Boyle County resident who works for Ephraim McDowell Health had come down with the disease. McDowell operates healthcare facilities in central Kentucky, including here in Mercer County. That person is currently hospitalized, according to a McDowell Health press release. The Boyle County Health Department and McDowell’s infectious disease team are tracking down other associates or patients who may have come in contact with the infected person.
At Sunday’s coronavirus briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 45 more people have tested positive for coronavirus, raising Kentucky’s total to 439. The increase was much lower than the state has seen in the past three days and no new deaths were reported.
So far, at least nine people have died of the coronavirus in Kentucky while at least 64 people have recovered. All the information is preliminary, Gov. Beshear said.
Worldwide, the total of confirmed coronavirus cases has grown to 718,685, according to Johns Hopkins University, with 139,675 of them in the U.S., which has become the epicenter of the global pandemic. So far, 33,881 people have died across the world, with nearly one-third of those deaths—10,779—in Italy. In the U.S., 2,457 have died so far. According to Johns Hopkins, 149,076 have recovered worldwide, with half of them—75,582—in China, where the disease was first discovered.
As the spread of the virus continues to grow, officials are struggling to ensure that the health system has the capacity to deal with it.
At Sunday’s briefing, Beshear said there are 18,500 hospital beds, 1,300 intensive care unit beds and 1,352 ventilators in Kentucky, which has a population of 4.5-million. According to a Kaiser Foundation report, 45.5-percent of Kentuckians aged 18 and over—1.5 million people—are at high risk of serious illness if they contact coronavirus because of underlying health issues. The governor has repeatedly called it our “patriotic duty” to follow social distancing guidelines, which include staying at least six feet away from others at all times. The governor said the steps he’s taken are to prevent Kentucky’s healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
“We have to make sure that we flatten this curve so that we don’t hit a point where our healthcare system is overloaded because that’s when we would lose more people than we would otherwise lose,” Beshear said.
He said he was taking steps to increase Kentucky’s capacity, including negotiating with hotels to serve as temporary hospitals if the need arises. The governor repeated his request for people to donate personnel protection equipment for healthcare workers.
Callers can reach the Kentucky Covid-19 Hotline at 1-800-722-5725, visit the Kentucky Covid-19 website at kycovid19.ky.gov or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
Gov. Beshear and the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet have established the Team Kentucky Fund, an online platform to provide financial help to Kentuckians whose employment is affected by the coronavirus. The governor challenged those who are able to help to make a tax-deductible donation to the fund. In addition, a website portal has been created to streamline the process for businesses looking to donate supplies and services for Kentuckians in need.
The state has also created the COVID-19 Reporting Hotline (833-597-2337) that will investigate complaints about non-compliance with coronavirus mandates. Labor Cabinet personnel will monitor the hotline from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. There is also a new state website Kentuckians can visit to make online complaints kysafer.ky.gov.