LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky has confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, and Gov. Andy Beshear Friday afternoon declared a state of emergency.
The patient is at UK Chandler Hospital in Lexington and is being treated in isolation.
The governor said he was not ready to release information about the person’s travel, but Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said experts will begin "contact tracing" to determine with whom the infected person was in contact and where they traveled.
Ten people in Kentucky have been tested for the virus and the results were negative for nine of them, state officials said.
Beshear and Stack said the overall threat to Kentuckians remains low, and they urged people to remain calm.
"We knew it was coming. We are ready,” Beshear said.
“It’s ok to be concerned," Stack said, "but please remain calm.”
The governor said that Kentucky should expect more cases, but Kentuckians should go about their lives as normal, though they should make sure to wash their hands properly and, if they are sick, to stay away from work and gatherings.
“People should go about their daily lives but practice better hygiene," Beshear said.
The governor also said he would ask Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to activate price-gouging measures to prevent excessive prices on items such as sanitizers.
Eric Friedlander, the acting secretary for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said he is confident local health departments are prepared to deal with the problem.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced late Friday afternoon that he and local health officials would provide an update on the city's coronavirus preparations on Monday morning.
UK officials said in a news release that its health care team "has taken every precaution and followed the appropriate (CDC) protocols to prevent exposure to other patients and caregivers."
The virus that originated Wuhan, China, has been confirmed in 20 U.S. states, with Indiana reporting a case Thursday morning, and Tennessee reporting a case Friday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention maintains a state-by-state list, although as of Friday afternoon it had not been updated to reflect the Indiana case.
According to the Indiana health department, human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
- Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands; and
- Rarely, fecal contamination.
The best way to protect yourself from any respiratory illness, including the flu, is to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Officials stressed that facemasks are not effective for preventing infection and should be worn only be people who are already infected.
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