Thursday, March 5, 2020

Governor Beshear, Health Officials Continue State Response Efforts for Coronavirus Disease 2019

Gov. Beshear said state officials are coordinating with local and federal officials and DPH is connecting with partner agencies like schools, childcare providers, emergency medical services, health care providers and local health departments through daily messaging. These communication efforts help to provide guidance for providers’ immediate response to local needs.

“Our State Health Operations Center, known as the ‘SHOC,’ is also operating to help mitigate concerns from our community of health providers,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are currently working at Level 2, and that means we have people working every day to coordinate our response to this situation. We have regular conference calls and are coordinating daily the interagency efforts to respond to this.”   

“On a community scale, we are encouraging all facilities, businesses and schools to begin preparation activities for the spread of Coronavirus,” he continued. “If you are responsible for others, take active steps to prepare your plan to react and protect them.”

DPH is working closely with clinicians to make sure providers are aware of and informed about the illness. In addition, DPH wants to ensure providers there is a process in place through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to determine whether testing is warranted, including consulting with the CDC as needed.

Last week, Gov. Beshear urged Kentucky employers to offer paid sick leave amid virus concerns to help ensure Kentuckians are not coming to work if they feel sick.

Monitoring
CHFS Acting Secretary Eric Friedlander said state public health officials have been monitoring individuals who meet certain criteria and are also preparing for the probability of the virus spreading within the Commonwealth.

Dr. Steven Stack, Department of Public Health commissioner, said that the risk to the average Kentuckian is low, and public health experts are working to keep it low even as there will likely be more transmission of cases within the country.

“We cannot make predictions as to how many cases we could potentially experience in Kentucky,” he said. “We hope there are none, but we are prepared to see cases here based on surveillance from around the U.S. and other parts of the world. Given the nature of the virus and its ability to spread person-to-person, broader transmission will occur.”

DPH is monitoring people who might have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days by contacting each person and collecting travel and health history information and determining the risk level for COVID-2019 exposure. DPH has monitored 121 people in Kentucky, of those 10 are still being actively monitored. None of those are persons under investigation.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, cough or shortness of breath. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have recently traveled to China, Iran and other countries currently affected by COVID-19, or have been in contact with someone who has traveled to affected areas should first contact their local health department. DPH officials said that exposed people should limit contact with others by staying at home, avoiding public gatherings like school or church and not taking public transportation.

Scam Awareness
Gov. Beshear also warned Kentuckians to be suspicious of scammers and con artists claiming to have a cure for the newest strain of the virus. Only legitimate medical authorities are working with the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration to create a vaccine for COVID-19. If, and when, a vaccine is approved, Kentuckians should ask their family doctor or government health officials for information on how to obtain a vaccine.

In the meantime, to avoid identity thieves, con artists and self-proclaimed experts, Kentuckians should:
  • Watch out for products that claim to cure coronavirus or guarantee coronavirus prevention.
  • Be wary of emails from con artists pretending to be the CDC or other public health organizations. A legitimate medical provider would never ask for sensitive information through email.
  • Research organizations that are claiming to raise money for a coronavirus vaccine or to help victims.

COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and continues to expand to other countries. Chinese health officials have reported more than 80,300 COVID-19 infections in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person-to-person in parts of that country. Infections with COVID-19, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan, also are being reported in a growing number of international locations, including the U.S.

As of 1 p.m. March 5, the CDC has reported 99 cases in the United States from 13 states and 10 deaths.

The current cases of infection in the U.S. are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html. To date there have been nearly 3,000 deaths worldwide from the virus.

Kentuckians can visit kycovid19.ky.gov and cdc.gov/coronavirus for up-to-date information.

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