UK Healthcare offers COVID-19 update; seeing increase in testing

Posted at 3:45 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 19:46:36-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Should coronavirus (COVID-19) spread more dramatically across Kentucky, doctors at the UK Healthcare Chandler Hospital feel as if testing for the virus should no longer be as challenging as it was at first.

“Testing appears to be more available nationwide,” said Dr. Derek Forster. “We have a number of commercial available labs coming on the market here pretty soon."

Kentucky is currently treating eight people who tested positive, including two in Lexington. In fact, Lexington’s “patient zero” is being treated by UK Healthcare.

“We still have, at UK Healthcare, one confirmed case who is getting better,” said Dr. Mark Newman, who is UK Healthcare’s Executive Vice President for Health Affairs.

Clearing the testing hurdle will likely cause a spike in the number of cases across Kentucky, but that might not prove to be such a bad outcome. It is better to know you have this virus so it can be treated in isolation than to be walking around with it while potentially infecting other people.

Schools across the country are closing their doors for the remainder of the school year. Berea College in Madison County is one of those schools, as it just announced it was taking that drastic measure on Tuesday afternoon.

A high-profile Lexington event, the high school basketball tournament Sweet-16, is scheduled to tip-off on Wednesday with the girls’ bracket. There are no plans to play this week’s games inside an empty Rupp Arena, but that could change before the boys begin their tournament next week.

“I think social distancing is important right now,” said Nurse Kimberly Blanton. “I don’t know if we push the panic button right now as you say, but we monitor it and be aware.

Dr. Forster said the leash should be shortened when considering events that will bring thousands of people together inside confined areas.

"I think we need to have a pretty low threshold if we’re making a decision that’s really in the best interest of the public,” Forster said.