Arts and Culture Health

Prominent philanthropist Christy Brown tested positive for COVID-19 late last week and is in stable condition, her attorney said.

Brown attended the Speed Art Museum Ball on March 7. Museum director Stephen Reily said in an emailed statement that two guests have now tested positive for the coronavirus, and that both were “asymptomatic” at the time. Reily did not release the names, but Mary Moss Greenebaum told WFPL she was the second case and is now symptom-free.

Reily said he consulted with Metro Louisville’s Communicable Disease department and those who public health officials consider at higher risk from possible exposure are being notified.

“This does not include either guests at the Ball generally or Speed staff members,” the statement said. “The Museum will continue cooperating with all local and regional public health and safety officials on this matter.”

The Speed Art Museum is closed until March 31. Non-essential workers are working from home, with pay, for the rest of the period, Reily said.

Brown started feeling ill a week ago and first believed she had an intestinal ailment, but went to the doctor when symptoms hadn’t subsided by mid-week, according to her attorney and friend Turney Berry. She was tested at the University of Louisville hospital on Thursday, and received the positive result Friday, Berry said. The news was first reported by the Courier Journal.

The onset of Brown’s symptoms came the day after the Speed Art Museum’s major fundraiser. Beshear said Sunday he had been tested for coronavirus following another attendee’s positive result. His test came back negative, he said.

Berry said Brown had been informing those she had been around about her illness, but was not aware of her directly informing the mayor’s office. He said he believed they would have known since Brown, who is in her early 70s, went through the city’s health department for her test. He did not know how long it took her to get the test.

Attendees included U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Metro Council President David James, Mayor Greg Fischer, the Rev. Kevin Cosby and Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Angela Bisig.

Beshear tested negative, he said Sunday. Fischer said Sunday evening that he had contact with Brown and has been tested. He is self-quarantining while he awaits results.

Congressman John Yarmuth issued a statement Sunday that he has been tested after he was in the presence of an individual who has since tested positive for COVID-19. Yarmuth didn’t say who or whether the contact was at the Speed’s ball. Yarmuth said he is awaiting results.

“Upon learning this, and after consult with my doctor, I made the decision to stay at home and will self-quarantine for the remainder of this week’s District Work Period,” Yarmuth said. “As I telework from home this week, I will continue to stay in touch with Federal, State, and local officials as we all work to combat this pandemic. I continue to urge all members of the public to practice social distancing and follow all Centers for Disease Control and Kentucky Department for Public Health guidelines to keep yourselves, your families, and others safe.”

Kate Howard contributed to this report.

Disclosure: Christy Brown is a major donor to Louisville Public Media, including WFPL.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.