Health

State officials say that the first person to contract COVID-19 from coronavirus in Kentucky is a Harrison County resident and is currently being treated at UK Chandler Hospital in Lexington.

The patient was first treated at Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana.

In a Saturday briefing at the state capitol, Gov. Andy Beshear said Harrison County Public Schools will be closed for at least a portion of next week and recommended that nursing homes close to visitors for the upcoming week.

He also advised that public gatherings be delayed in Harrison County, urged “social distancing”—trying to stay about six feet apart from other people and practicing good hygiene.

“Washing your hands, washing them well, washing them a whole lot more than you might have a month ago. And making sure that if you are sick anywhere in Kentucky, but especially in Harrison County, do not go to work,” Beshear said.

Kentucky’s first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced late Friday, with Beshear declaring a state of emergency so the state can draw down federal funds. No details of the individual have been released, except that the new information that they live in Harrison County. Lexington has also declared a state of emergency.

Beshear said he expected there would be more cases in Harrison County and across the state.

“Any area where we have a dense population in Kentucky, by the time we’re fully through with this—and we will, we’ll get to the other side—we should anticipate that we’ll have those cases,” Beshear said.

UK Healthcare Vice President Mark Newman said the hospital has resources to treat the sickest of patients in isolation, but that in the future some patients will have to be treated locally.

“As we look forward, we want to be a resource, but the majority of these patients are going to be treated in their local hospitals and in their communities and some at home,” Newman said.

Harrison County Judge Executive Alex Barnett said that the county had been preparing for the possibility of a coronavirus case and added some levity.

“Harrison County wants to be the first in a lot of things, but in the coronavirus we didn’t want to be,” Barnett said.

Cases have also been confirmed in Kentucky’s neighboring states of Indiana, Tennessee and Illinois.

According to NPR, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. is now more than 300 and 17 have died in the country. The total number of confirmed cases worldwide is more than 102,000 with 3,400 deaths.

Beshear said he will provide another update on the issue on Sunday.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.