Lexington prepares for 'when' not if coronavirus hits city

Posted at 4:32 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 04:43:09-05

LEXINGTON, Ky (LEX 18) — It was not a slip of the tongue when Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said Tuesday morning’s meeting was being held to “make sure that our community is prepared when COVID-19 comes here.”

“Dr. (Kraig) Humbaugh has convinced me that it will come here. It’s already in many states,” Gorton said.

Humbaugh works for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. He was one of several experts called upon to discuss with the media, and amongst themselves, what the city’s plan will be once the first person in Lexington tests positive for COVID-19.

“Containment, which is early identification of cases, and potential isolation, or quarantine of cases, or people who are exposed,” he said of likely precautionary measures that’ll be taken.

Humbaugh confirmed that many people in Lexington are already being monitored after possible exposure to the virus.

While it seems like a long shot, the cancellation or postponement of large-scale events around town wouldn’t be out of the question if Lexington begins to register multiple positive cases.

“Keeneland (the spring meet) is coming. The Sweet-16 (high school basketball tournament) is coming, so all of those have potential,” Gorton said, before mentioning it’s just as likely you’ve been exposed to influenza during a UK game at Rupp Arena.

While canceling those upcoming events seems like a harsh decision, there’s good reason for not wanting large groups congregating in confined areas.

“Many people who could spread the virus are not coming to medial or public health attention,” said Dr. Humbaugh.

That’s due in large part to the fact that COVID-19 symptoms may not present, in many cases, with much severity. You could be infected with the virus and not know.

“Most cases are mild, or not requiring acute hospitalization. That has made it harder to control the spread of disease.” Humbaugh said.

That’s probably why our Mayor felt confident in saying “when,” rather than if.