AP NEWS

Kentucky confirms first case of coronavirus in the state

March 7, 2020 GMT
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, at podium, announces the state’s first confirmed case of the new coronavirus at a press conference on Friday, March 6, 2020, in Frankfort, Ky. Beshear was flanked by top public health officials in his administration while announcing that the positive test came back Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner)
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, at podium, announces the state’s first confirmed case of the new coronavirus at a press conference on Friday, March 6, 2020, in Frankfort, Ky. Beshear was flanked by top public health officials in his administration while announcing that the positive test came back Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday.

The positive test came back Friday afternoon and the patient, whose age was not given, was in isolation at a hospital in Lexington.

The governor said he had 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.

“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 at a statehouse news conference.

Ten people in Kentucky have been tested for the virus and the results were negative for nine of them, state officials said.

The University of Kentucky announced later that the patient is in isolation at UK Chandler Hospital.

“Our health care team has taken every precaution and followed the appropriate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols to prevent exposure to other patients and caregivers,” UK spokesman Jay Blanton said in a statement.

The patient is not a member of the “UK community,” he said.

State epidemiologists will go through a methodical process to determine who the patient may have been in contact with and retrace places where the patient had been, said Dr. Steven Stack, the state’s public health commissioner.

Beshear stressed that there’s no need for panic and it shouldn’t disrupt people’s lives.

“We expected this,” the governor said. “We’re ready for it. We will respond to it. We will get through this together.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said Friday that Kentucky will receive at least $7 million to help fight the virus. The money is part of an $8.3 billion federal emergency spending package to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus strain across the country.

Beshear said his administration is looking into whether to request more funding from state lawmakers to deal with the response to the virus.

“We need to have every tool to respond,” he said. “And so I may ask them, given that this is going to play out over a length of time longer than the legislative session, for some flexibility on using funds, if they’re needed.”

The governor 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.

Indiana also confirmed its first case Friday and Tennessee confirmed its first case Thursday.

In Tennessee, the state health department said Friday that it had received negative test results for household contacts for the first coronavirus case in the state. Tests on two unrelated people also were negative, it said.

The Tennessee patient has a mild illness and is isolated at home, the department said.

___

For more information about Kentucky’s preparedness and response, people can visit kycovid19.ky.gov and cdc.gov/coronavirus for up-to-date information.

___

Lovan reported from Louisville, Ky.

___

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.