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61-year-old woman is first Hopkinsville COVID-19 case; local state of emergency declared

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COVID-19

A 61-year-old woman is the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus disease 19 in Hopkinsville.

The case was confirmed Thursday morning by commercial lab results sent to a physician at Jennie Stuart Medical Center, who then contacted Christian County Health Department.

The woman is in self isolation. Those who have come into direct contact with the woman are being contacted by a local epidemiologist.

CCHD Executive Director Kayla Bebout made the announcement Thursday afternoon alongside local officials.

She and CCHD spokesperson Amanda Sweeney declined providing any additional information.

“Not right now,” Bebout said when asked if she would be taking questions at the press conference. “We need to go start working the contacts ... Right now our priority is contacting those direct contacts.”

Jennie Stuart Health CEO Eric Lee also declined to answer questions.

“I’m not the best person to answer those,” he said. “I want to be able to pull in the appropriate people to answer any questions that you may have.”

During the press conference, Hopkinsville Mayor Wendell Lynch and Christian Judge-Executive Steve Tribble both declared a local state of emergency.

Tribble said in a phone interview later that the state of emergency will not hinder local residents from getting what they need, such as groceries or supplies.

“A state of emergency is more for if we have to make expenditures to man and supply the emergency operations center (in the basement of CCHD),” he said. “It’s so stuff that’s spent over there we can get reimbursed for expenses associated with the emergency.”

Tribble said the first local case is sure to not be the last, and the emergency operations center “will be operating for awhile.”

Tribble went on to say that he and Lynch weren’t told much more about the Hopkinsville woman who tested positive for COVID-19 either.

“I know the doctor tested her outside in her car, and it was sent off around March 13,” he said. “That’s all I know.”

Additional questions about the confirmed case were sent to both Sweeney and JSMC spokeswoman Selina Staub via email Thursday.

Sweeney said a response to those questions would be available Friday.

COVID-19 is a newly identified respiratory virus that can spread easily. It shares several symptoms with influenza but is treated differently. COVID-19 infection may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

As of Thursday afternoon, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said there are 47 confirmed cases and two deaths in the state attributed to COVID-19. The second patient died March 13.

Christian County Emergency Management Director Randy Graham said during the local press conference that “as this situation escalates, we will go into full activation of our response partners,” noting that CCHD and JSMC have been in communication with emergency management daily.

“As we move forward, you’re going to see a tremendous response effort from all of these individuals,” Graham said.

When Lynch spoke, he said the city has implemented a work-from-home policy for non-essential staff.

He also said Hopkinsville Police Department has created an auxiliary site at the Planters Bank Jennie Stuart Health Sportsplex.

“Inevitably we’re going to come in contact with this, and we have two sites that can fully operate, and it is up and going,” Lynch said, noting that Hopkinsville Fire/EMS has multiple stations that can be utilized if needed.

The mayor also urged all non-essential meetings in the city to cease and for people to continue social distancing.

“I think we all understand that this is really serious,” he said.

Tribble agreed.

“They say that folks my age are very susceptible to this, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Tribble, who is 72. “We’ve just got to use common sense and be positive about this and treat everyone with kindness. ... If everybody would do that, we’ll get through this altogether.”

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or zalleyne@kentuckynewera.com.

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