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Schools closed in northern Kentucky county with virus case

March 7, 2020 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Schools will be closed and nursing homes have been advised to stop accepting visitors in a Kentucky county where the state’s first coronavirus patient lives, Gov. Andy Beshear said Saturday.

The patient from Harrison County in northern Kentucky is hospitalized in serious condition but is improving at the University of Kentucky’s Albert B. Chandler Hospital, Beshear said during a news conference in Frankfort.

Beshear said more cases are anticipated in Kentucky and Harrison County, where the county seat is Cynthiana. Kentucky has all the coronavirus test kits it needs at this time, the governor said.

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As a preventative measure, the county’s public schools superintendent will be closing the school system for part of next week, and perhaps the entire week, Beshear said. Nursing homes are recommended to close to visitors and public gatherings should be delayed in the county with a population of more than 18,000, the governor said.

The state confirmed its first case after a positive test came back Friday afternoon.

The patient has not been identified and other information, such as whether the person traveled with the illness and the patient’s job, has not been released. State epidemiologists are working to find people who have been in contact with the patient, officials said.

The governor has declared a state of emergency to ensure all state entities have the necessary resources to respond. The declaration sets up a central, coordinated response, he said.

Beshear has urged people to take precautionary steps to protect the health of themselves and those around them. That includes washing hands thoroughly, staying home when sick, covering coughs or sneezes and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

People should engage in “social distancing” — trying to stay about 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from someone else, Beshear said.

“If you are sick anywhere in Kentucky, but especially in Harrison County, do not go to work,” Beshear said.

State government is adjusting its sick leave policy to make sure state employees who are ill can stay home, including newer employees who have not accumulated leave time, the first-term Democratic governor said.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.