A 21-year-old female and a 24-year-old male are Hopkinsville’s second and third cases of coronavirus disease 2019.

The first local COVID-19 case was a 61-year-old female who tested positive last Thursday.

Christian County Health Department and Jennie Stuart Health officials shared the additional two cases Sunday and Monday afternoon via teleconference with local media.

CCHD Executive Director Kayla Bebout said the 21-year-old female is in direct contact with the 24-year-old male who was announced presumptive positive Sunday.

Bebout did not say if they live or work together; however, direct exposure is being within close contact for more than 20 minutes.

“There has been direct contact between the 24-year-old male and the 21-year-old female that was confirmed by the state lab today,” Bebout said Monday.

“We are still under the investigation process to find out their surroundings,” she noted. “We’re trying to investigate where they have been.”

All three local cases of COVID-19 are in self-isolation and being monitored by CCHD epidemiology staff. None had been hospitalized as of Monday evening.

Bebout said the young woman was tested Sunday at Jennie Stuart Medical Center’s emergency department, and her results returned around 2:30 p.m. Monday from the Kentucky state lab.

The male was also tested by a local physician, but his test was sent to a commercial lab and must be verified by the state lab before being confirmed positive. CCHD was made aware of the man’s results Saturday evening.

Hopkinsville Community College announced Sunday that the presumptive positive male is an employee at the college.

“On Sunday, March 22, Hopkinsville Community College (HCC) leadership was made aware that a college employee has received a presumptive positive for COVID-19,” the news release states. “According to the Christian County Health Department, the test is categorized as presumptive due to the fact that the test was given at a new testing facility, which requires verification from the State.”

Bebout shared Sunday that health department staff have been able to reach all but one of the man’s direct contacts.

“They have called and left messages with this individual, and we are trying to do what we can to reach that person,” Bebout said.

Jennie Stuart Health President/CEO Eric Lee said the Express Lab on Eagle Way, which has been set up as a drive-thru screening and testing site for COVID-19, will be open again this week.

However, drive-thru testing will not be done Tuesday due to the forecast of severe weather.

“Anyone feeling ill should isolate at home, and when the center opens Wednesday, they can come,” said Dr. Keith Toms, of Generations Primary Care and vice president of provider services at Jennie Stuart.

Toms reported that 79 people were assessed Monday and 96 patients utilized the Express Lab on Friday when it opened to the community.

Thirty COVID-19 tests were administered based on patients’ symptoms Friday, and “about a third” of Monday’s patients were tested, he said.

“The samples we drew on Friday have not resulted yet. We don’t know any results from those yet,” Toms said Monday afternoon.

He went on to say that not everybody that comes to the Express Lab is tested for COVID-19.

“There are people who think their sinus infection could be something bigger,” Toms said, noting that he recognizes there is a lot of “anxiety” in the community about the pandemic, but only those with COVID-19 symptoms will be tested for it.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath. Adults over 60 years old with compromised immune systems are at risk for more serious complications from the virus.

When patients get tested for COVID-19, test results could take up to a week to return, depending on the lab.

“Turn around time has been around six days,” Toms said. “It’s frustratingly slow, but they are getting quicker.”

Toms noted that patients who are tested for COVID-19 are asked to self-quarantine until the results return. If positive, they would then self-isolate to prevent spreading the virus in the community.

As far as if the hospital is prepared for the number of local COVID-19 cases to rise, it appears a plan is in motion.

Beth McCraw, vice president of Nursing and Clinical Services at Jennie Stuart Medical Center, said the hospital has dual triage set up to tend to those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

“We have really focused a lot on how to increase our bed capacity,” McCraw said Sunday. “We’re looking at our intensive care unit to make sure we can staff that adequately.”

McCraw explained that with the utilization of additional JSMC staff, up to 33 private beds are available in the critical care area of the hospital.

Altogether, Jennie Stuart Health has about 115 to 120 private rooms, she noted.

Jennie Stuart Health President/CEO Eric Lee said the hospital is considering a satellite location in case of a surge of extreme cases of COVID-19.

“We have begun to talk about potential alternative care sites, but that is something that Jennie Stuart would need the help of the community,” he said.

“Jennie Stuart is not going to have the capacity of Louisville or Vanderbilt,” he continued. “We are doing everything that we can to create as much capacity as we can to accommodate the needs of the patients we could see.

“What a lot of communities are doing is they’ve taken facilities that are not in use and made fairly quick modifications to them for those patients that need to be quarantined.”

Bebout said all three local COVID-19 patients are “in good spirits” at home, but she asked the community to continue social distancing and urged businesses to follow the governor’s closure mandate.

“We had some calls about some businesses that have not been complying,” she said. “We ask all businesses to be complying and following what the government has recommended.”

In addition to social distancing, Bebout urged everyone in the community to continue best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
  • Cover your cough with your sleeve
  • Stay at home if you are sick or caring for those who are sick

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