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Beshear, officials give updates on coronavirus

Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 20:43:26-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18)  — In an update on Monday morning, Governor Andy Beshear confirmed four positive cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in Kentucky.

"They are all currently in isolation," said Beshear.

The four cases are in three separate counties - two in Harrison County, one in Fayette County, and one in Jefferson County. Out of the four, only one has recently traveled.

"At this time, we have only found travel history in one of these four individuals," said Beshear. "So, we believe - and this seems to be the case nationally - that this is community spreading. Spreading from person to person."

Governor Beshear says that is no reason to panic. Based on what they know about the new coronavirus, this is what health officials expected.

"We are ready for it. It is what we always thought we would see with this novel coronavirus," said Beshear.

Due to medical privacy laws and ongoing investigations by epidemiologists, Governor Beshear was limited in the information he could share about Kentucky's current coronavirus cases. However, he was able to confirm that two of the four cases are linked.

"The two patients from Harrison County are linked, but we can't provide details on that linkage at this time."

The governor did, however, confirm that the first patient in Harrison County is an employee at the Walmart in Cynthiana. He also said the store is not the link between the two people.

"We can't provide details of the link between the two patients in Harrison County, but I do believe it's fair to disclose that right now, we don't believe it is the Walmart," said Beshear. "So for everybody that has been through that Walmart, I know it's going to make you nervous. Just because you've been there, doesn't mean you have the coronavirus."

As far as the other employees go, Governor Beshear said some of them will self isolate, but none are symptomatic.

"At this point, every co-worker that we have contacted - while they are going to self isolate - none of them have shown symptoms," said Beshear.

The store itself has been cleaned and is open for business. The Governor reassured people it is safe to go there.

"We don't have any reason to believe that it's dangerous to go to that Cynthiana Walmart right now," said Beshear.

State health officials also pushed the importance of good hygiene. They say good hand washing is effective and based on what they currently know about the new coronavirus, they don't believe there is reason to stress about it.

"For 80% or more of people who get infected, you're going to be just fine," said Dr. Steven Stack, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. "You'll probably either have cold symptoms or no symptoms. So for 80% or more people, the current data says, you will be fine."

Governor Beshear also wants to make the test for the new coronavirus more accessible. He got rid of steps that could restrict Medicaid patients from getting the test when they need it.

"We are removing any impediments to getting someone tested or treated on Medicaid," said Beshear. "We're going to eliminate prior authorization or any other issues that would cause push back within that Medicaid system."

He also signed an executive order to help those with private and state insurance. It requires health insurance companies to cover the full cost of testing for the new coronavirus once the test becomes available from commercial labs.

"Today, I will be issuing an executive order that will waive co-pays, deductibles, cost sharing, and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance and state employees," said Beshear. "We want to make sure there aren't any costs or other impediments as we move forward."

Those who have questions or concerns about the coronavirus are asked to call the state's COVID-19 hotline, 1-800-722-5725. Up to date information on Kentucky's coronavirus cases, can also be found on the state's website.