There are no confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus in Louisville.
That was the main message from officials during a news conference Thursday addressing the city’s preparedness for the disease. But amid reports that the disease is poised to spread worldwide, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stressed that city officials are ready to respond.
“While the concern over the coronavirus is new, preparing for emergencies and disasters and potential threats is part of our DNA at Metro Government,” Fischer said. “Louisville responded to the hepatitis A outbreak of 2017, with the CDC calling our response the gold standard. Metro Government also dealt successfully with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, when we administered more than 22,000 immunizations in a day and a half at drive-thru and walk-in clinics.
“While the situation with COVID-19 is evolving, and Louisvillians continue to be at very low risk, we are in contact with the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Kentucky Department for Public Health.”
Ten people are being monitored for coronavirus in Louisville, but Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and the city’s Chief Health Strategist, said the flu poses a far greater risk for Louisville residents than the coronavirus.
“This year, we’ve had more than 7,600 confirmed flu cases in Louisville with eight deaths,” she said.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus, but officials said there are some common sense measures residents can take to protect themselves:
- Wash hands thoroughly
- Cover your mouth when you cough and into your sleeve when you sneeze
- If you’re sick, stay home. If your child is sick, keep him or her home from school or day care
At a news conference in Frankfort on Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear said appropriate measures like washing hands, getting flu shots and staying home when sick could be key in stopping the spread of this sometimes deadly illness.
“I feel very strongly that our work will have us prepared if and when we see a confirmed case,” he said. “I believe our state of preparedness is not only good but getting better every day.”
And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on the virus Thursday on the Senate floor.
“As our public health experts remind us, a nation of nearly 4 million square miles and more than 300 million people cannot be hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world,” he said. “There seems to be little question that COVID-19 will eventually cause some degree of disruption here.”
At the time of this writing, the CDC said there are 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. Of that number, 12 were individuals who had traveled to infected countries and two were close personal household contacts of those people. One recent case is of unknown origin. Another 45 cases have been detected among Americans being repatriated from Hubei Province China on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
On Wednesday night, the CDC announced an infection with the virus in a California resident who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with the coronavirus.
It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States.