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COVID-19/Coronavirus Case Confirmed in Kenton County

This story has been updated to include details from a Wednesday evening virtual news conference hosted by the Northern Kentucky Health Department.



NEW AND ADDITIONAL DETAILS FROM THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT'S NEWS CONFERENCE

  • A 66-year old woman from Kenton County tested positive for the coronavirus/COVID 19 and is at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas where she is in isolation. She is the first confirmed case in Northern Kentucky. No additional details were given about how the woman may have come into contact with the virus.
  • The woman was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, but Dr. Larry Kendall of St. Elizabeth Healthcare said that he did not know when she was originally tested.
  • Tests have been conducted in Northern Kentucky every day "for a number of weeks," according to Dr. Lynne Saddler, NKY District Director of Health.
  • Test results take three to five days to be returned, Kendall said. St. Elizabeth sends its tests for examination at LabCorp.
  • In Northern Kentucky, "We are specifically testing people with high risk," Kendall said.
  • Now that there is a positive case, Saddler said that there will be an investigation into how the woman contracted COVID-19 and into whether others that she may have had contact with should self-quarantine.
  • What such an investigation could look like: "We're trying to get a sense of where the person got their infection from and where have they been, who have they been around, to identify people and ascertain whether there is anybody else who has had prolonged close contact with the case and then we would reach and notify - and give them instructions on what they need to do," Saddler said. She went on to say, "We have to be able to get a better handle on how many people she has been in contact with (and are potentialy exposed)."
  • Some people who have COVID-19 do not show symptoms early on, but it is still contagious, Saddler said. "People who are asymptomatic but infected, we know there is the possibility that one to two days before symptoms start that people can potentially be infectious," Saddler said," but what we know is, that is nowhere near as likely as people are exhibiting high fever." 
  • "This is why the measures the Governor has put into place to promote social distancing, such as the closure of schools, in-person events, and restaurants/bars to in-person dining, are so important. Since we don't know who might have the illness, especially if individuals have no to mild symptoms, these measures can protect all of us," the NKY Health Department said via email in response to a follow-up question from RCN. "Additionally, testing of asymptomatic individuals can also give people a false sense of security. Those who have no symptoms do not have a high enough viral load to demonstrate a positive test result. They may think that they are fine, only to be sick a few days later, not realizing they are indeed sick with COVID-19 and potentially spreading the illness to others."
  • St. Elizabeth is prepared to handle as many patients that arrive, Kendall said. "This has been something we have been preparing for for some time," Kendall said. "We have had an infectious disease response team in place for a number of years. We have been preparing for this latest illness for some time as well. I feel like we were well-equipped."
  • There are special units across the St. Elizabeth system to accommodate COVID-19 patients, Kendall said. 

ORIGINAL STORY:

Kenton County has its first case of COVID-19/coronavirus, which is now a global pandemic and has forced the closure of local schools and many businesses, with further restrictions on others.

Governor Andy Beshear announced Kenton's first case during his daily briefing on the state's response to the respiratory virus that has afflicted 34 Kentuckians. Five more were added to the original 29 that Beshear had announced minutes before.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department said that the patient is a 66-year old woman. She is in isolation at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas.

The health department said that it will have more to say during a 6:30 p.m. virtual news conference. The River City News will attend and update this story when more information is known.

COVID-19 ranges from a mild to severe upper respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Most people who are infected with COVID-19 have a mild to moderate illness recover at home. However, some people are more likely to have severe illness requiring hospitalization, including the elderly and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lung diseases. 

“We have been planning for the possibility of cases here in Northern Kentucky," said Dr. Lynne Saddler, NKY Health’s district director of health. She said that there is mo reason to panic. "All of us must do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by frequently washing our hands; avoiding touching our eyes, nose and mouth; avoiding close contact with ill people; covering coughs and sneezes properly; and staying home when we are sick.” 

The Northern Kentucky Health Department continues to work with the Kentucky Department for Public Health and local health care providers to monitor and screen for potential cases, educate the public on what they can do to prevent the spread of illness, and stay up to date on the latest information, a news release said.

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, and have a fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about any recent travel, and/or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, and your symptoms. You should also avoid contact with others to prevent them from becoming sick.

At this time, most people in our area will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus, but it is likely that additional cases could be identified in the coming days and weeks, a news release said. Protect yourself and your family from disease by washing your hands and cleaning/disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others, and avoid non-essential travel, a news release said. 

The Northern Kentucky Health Dept. maintains a web page related to coronavirus/COVID-19. For that, click here.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher