Beshear announces first confirmed coronavirus case in Kentucky


Rebekah Alvey

The first confirmed case of coronavirus in Kentucky was announced this afternoon by Gov. Andy Beshear, a day after the first report was announced in Tennessee

The individual that has tested positive for the virus is in Lexington and being treated at a medical facility in isolation. Beshear said 10 people were tested at a state lab and this was the only test that came back positive. 

“While the overall threat to Kentuckians is still low, we as a state are going to take every necessary action to protect our people,” Beshear said in the press conference. 

After learning about the first case, Beshear said he filed for a state of emergency, activated the emergency operations center and repurposed the poison control hotline which is available for anyone who has a concern about the virus.  

Read more: What is the coronavirus? What you need to know to be prepared at WKU

Beshear said calling a state of emergency connects all necessary groups to form one coordinated action and allows the activation of the National Guard if needed. 

Beshear said he could not provide more details on the individual and their recent interactions or travel until an epidemiologist could do research. He emphasized transparency throughout this process and said the public should expect more information throughout the weekend and into next week. 

Department of Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said the state epidemiologist will identify who the individual was in contact with, where they went and any possible source or contact. They will then work with public health officials to make sure they have proper information. 

“This is what we’ve been preparing for, and we’re ready,” Beshear said. 

While Beshear said he could understand some of the concern, he encouraged Kentuckians to remain calm and to go about their normal day-to-day lives. He emphasized better hygiene, like washing hands frequently, and staying home from work or school if you are not feeling well. 

“We will step up, we will help our people and we will eventually move beyond this coronavirus,” Beshear said.  

There are 164 reported cases of coronavirus in the U.S. as of March 6, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 19 states have reported cases and there have been a total of 11 deaths. The majority of cases are concentrated in California and Washington state. However, both Tennessee and Indiana have reported cases since March 5. 

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Editor-in-Chief Rebekah Alvey can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @bekah_alvey.