Editor's note: This story was updated at 12:36 p.m. to include that the patient appears to have contracted the virus via community spread and that local officials are not permitted to release the patient's age and gender until the governor confirms it. This story was updated again at 3:40 p.m. to include more information about the patient's condition and who is at risk. This story was updated again at 6 p.m. to include more information about the patient.
Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed Franklin County's first COVID-19 case is a 61-year-old woman.
Beshear revealed her age and gender during his Thursday afternoon press conference.
On Wednesday and earlier Thursday, Franklin County health officials had declined to release the patient's age and gender but did confirm that the patient did not have an international travel history and appears to have contracted the virus via community spread.
“Since we only have one case in Franklin County at this time this specific information must be suppressed in order to protect patient privacy. The patient is in their 60s and is in isolation, therefore posing no further risk of spreading the virus in our community,” Franklin County Health Department Director Judy Mattingly told The State Journal Thursday morning.
“Our contact investigation team is hard at work as we speak completing contact tracing,” she added. "I have checked with the Kentucky Department for Public Health who has confirmed that the governor may release the gender and age and at the local level we are not to do so until the governor has confirmed this."
During an afternoon press conference at the Emergency Operations Center in the Public Safety Building, Mattingly said the patient had not been out in the community much. After the press conference, Mattingly told The State Journal the patient was doing well but was experiencing some respiratory distress.
The major concern right now is identifying people who may be at "high risk" of contracting COVID-19 after being in close contact with the patient. People who are at high risk include anyone who lives in the same house with the patient or has had close contact, such as being face-to-face with her for at least 30 minutes.
Mattingly said people who have been identified as high risk will be notified and asked to self-isolate. The health department has resources for people who are self-isolating to receive grocery delivery if needed.
As for whether workplaces will be required to notify employees of possible exposure, that is up to the employer.
"Most people are not going to be high risk," Mattingly said. One example of low to moderate risk is to have been shopping at the same place and time as someone who has COVID-19.
Brad Wands, spokesman for Frankfort Regional Medical Center, told the newspaper that the hospital was notified that a patient who was presumed positive for COVID-19 was at the facility.
“We have protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases and we are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines related to COVID-19 cases,” he said, adding that they include appropriate isolation of the patient, use of personal protective equipment and hand hygiene. “We are taking all steps to ensure the safety of our patients, employees and visitors.”
At his daily press conference Wednesday evening, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Franklin County’s first confirmed positive case of coronavirus. Health officials and other local officials would only say at the time that the person is a resident of the county and in his or her 60s.
“While the risk to the general public still remains low, health officials are working with the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Frankfort Regional Medical Center and Frankfort-Franklin County Emergency Management to identify and contact all those who may have come in contact with the infected person,” Mattingly said.
Those who have been near the infected patient will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
Frankfort Regional Medical Center recently instituted visitor restrictions, much like it does during heavy flu seasons. Visitors are asked to use specifically marked entrances in order to be screened.
“We have positioned supplies at points of entry so that any potential symptomatic patient who arrives can be properly masked and immediately isolated to protect our colleagues and other patients,” Wands added.
As of Thursday afternoon, two people have died from the virus in Kentucky and 47 have been diagnosed.
This developing story will be updated.