A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Governor Andy Beshear says state prepared and ready to address coronavirus issue head-on

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

There have no confirmed cases in Kentucky of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, and Gov. Andy Beshear has addressed the state’s efforts to keep it that way.

“I want to reassure everyone that your state government, your local health departments, everyone, is prepared and is ready to address this issue head-on, and I feel very strongly that our work will have us prepared, if and when we see a confirmed case,” Beshear said.

Beshear said public health officials have been contacting and monitoring anyone who has arrived in Kentucky from China during the last 14 days to self-isolate, avoid public gatherings and report their temperature and any symptoms daily.

“Thus far we’ve monitored over 100 people,” he said. “All but one has been illness-free. The one person who had symptoms, tested negative.”

He announced the state has established a new website, kycovid19.ky.gov. “The site will help to answer public questions and support our medical community as information becomes available on the site.”

He says the State Health Operations Center has been activated, “which means we are focused on preparedness, planning and response activities.

Eric Friedlander, Acting Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told reporters, “We are prepared to fulfill our Cabinet’s mission, to protect Kentuckians and to enhance their health, safety and well-being.”

He said state government agencies are working together on the issue. “We have procedures in place for how we collaborate with the Kentucky Emergency Management System. This entire network has been built to protect every Kentuckian.”

Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the state is working with the Trump Administration to coordinate the response to COVID-19.

“I returned last night from Washington, DC, where I met at the White House with federal officials, fellow state health officers and local health department leaders, to coordinate a consistent and effective national response for this illness.”

He also noted, “The potential global public health threat posed by this virus is high, but the immediate risk to Kentuckians is low.”

Beshear described some of the ways to keep COVID-19 from spreading, calling them similar to those with flu. “Staying home if you don’t feel well, don’t come to work if you are sick and properly wash your hands.”

There has been talk about potentially having to cancel the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year, and Beshear was asked if any precautions were being taken for the Kentucky Derby.

“I think it is early, especially since we’ve had no one confirmed. I think this is a wait and watch, but I wouldn’t make or suggest any drastic steps unless we see a change in our current status quo.”

Beshear also had nothing but good things to say about the Trump Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 situation.

“We have had significant communications, directly with me as governor, with our Cabinet for Health and Family Services, with the CDC, with the Administration, and we feel that we’ve gotten a lot of information. I have no criticism of how the Administration is working with us. They’ve been a good partner.”

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