Kentucky governor confirms state's 1st COVID-19 case in Lexington

Posted at 3:25 PM, Mar 06, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The governor of Kentucky has confirmed the state’s first case of the new coronavirus in Lexington and declared a state of emergency.

"With this state of emergency, we now have every resource available to respond," Gov. Andy Beshear said at a Friday press conference.

Beshear said the person is currently being treated in medical isolation. Ten people have been tested for coronavirus so far.

"It is important now that we have the first confirmed case, we should expect at least one other confirmed case at some point in Kentucky," Beshear said.

Officials will provide more updates through the weekend.

"To our Kentucky families out there that are nervous, this is what we’ve been preparing for and we are ready," he said.

Anyone with concerns, including people who think they have the virus, should call Kentucky's COVID-19 hotline, 1-800-222-1222.

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 has 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 may 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 of noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it may 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.

Click here to learn more about COVID-19.

Staff at WCPO and WLEX contributed to this report.