A 24-year-old male is Hopkinsville's second presumptive confirmed case of coronavirus disease 2019.

Christian County Health Department and Jennie Stuart Health officials shared the update Sunday afternoon during a media conference.

Hopkinsville Community College announced shortly after that the presumptive positive is an employee at the college, according to a Sunday news release.

"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 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."

CCHD Executive Director Kayla Bebout said the man is in self-isolation at home.

Bebout also shared 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 Sunday. 

She noted that CCHD was alerted of the second case Saturday evening by a local physician who sent the test to a commercial lab.

The first local case of COVID-19 was a 60-year-old woman who was also tested by a physician at Jennie Stuart Medical Center. Her results were announced Thursday, and she is in self-isolation.

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.

Dr. Keith Toms, vice president of provider services at Jennie Stuart, said 96 patients utilized the Express Lab on Friday when it opened to the community.

Thirty COVID-19 tests were administered based on patients' symptoms, he said.

"Not everybody that comes to the Express Lab is tested for COVID-19," 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. "There are people who think their sinus infection could be something bigger."

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.

Toms said the Express Lab will be staffed with more nurses and doctors to screen patients starting Monday.

"We plan to have up to six medical providers out there," he said. "We're trying to streamline the process, but it could be up to two-hour waits depending on how many patients show up."

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

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

He noted that the 30 patients who were tested for COVID-19 were 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."

Neither of the local COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized as of Sunday.

Bebout said both are in self-isolation at home, and a CCHD epidemiologist is in contact daily, monitoring their symptoms.

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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