"This situation is evolving quickly and the information is changing very quickly," stated Shawn Crabtree, who is Executive Director of the Lake Cumberland District Heath Department, as he addressed members of the media during a webinar on COVID-19 held on Thurs-day, March 12 at offices around the 10-county lake area.
A similar webinar was held earlier that day and included leadership
in each of the counties represented in the lake area.
As Crabtree stressed during the session, there have been no cases of
the coronavirus confirmed in the Lake Cumberland area, and that is
information that has continued to hold true as this edition went to
press Monday evening. As of March 12, one person in the Lake
Cumberland area had been tested for COVID-19 and those results were
There were no pending tests at that point, though there had been
some individuals who live in the 10-county area who have been
identified with risk factors who are self-monitoring.
"We have been fielding a tremendous number of calls. There have been
a lot of phone calls where people think someone down the road has it,
or someone at school has it or someone at the hospital has it," said
Crabtree. "There are no confirmed cases...Do I think we will get
cases in the Lake Cumberland area? We probably will, but hopefully we
He continued, "This virus is spreading pretty aggressively. The
COVID-19 is in the coronovirus family and you become contagious
before you start showing symptoms. That makes it very difficult to
identify and isolate people."
He stressed the importance of information that has been shared many
times over the past week—practice vigilant handwashing, cough into
your elbow or a handkerchief, observe social distancing and if you
feel sick stay at home. Crabtree advised avoiding any social
gatherings, and to stay six feet away to practice social distancing.
"This particular virus, as I understand it, seems to be impacting
people different ways depending on their age," stated Crabtree.
"Children who have the virus generally speaking don't show illness,
even though they have it and are contagious. Middle aged folks and
young, in many cases, will have mild symptoms, maybe feeling like
they have a cold or something. They are contagious, though they may
not have a lot of symptoms."
He continued, "The individuals we are worried the most about are
those over 60 and those who have underlying kidney disease, those
with diabetes or comprised im-mune systems already... We want to try
to protect our elderly."
Though Crabtree and other health officials are uncertain how long
they will be dealing with COVID-19, he noted that they expect this to
"hang around for a while, that it is not something that is going to
Amanda England, who is the regional epidemiologist for the Lake
Cumber-land District Health De-partment, explained there are
different types of coronavius. This specific strain is COVID-19,
which is new and is being called novel. There is no vaccine for it
and no antiviral treatment, unlike the flu.
England said the main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing and
shortness of breath. She said the symptoms seem to occur two to
fourteen days after exposure.
"It is a respiratory virus and it is spread though the droplets when
people cough or sneeze," stated England. "That is why we recommend
the six feet between each other."
England said that anyone who is concerned they have COVID-19 should
not just show up at a doctor's office or hospital. They are being
advised to call ahead to the office or hospital to be screened first.
Several members of the media who participated in the webinar had
questions regarding the seasonality of the virus. Amy Tomlinson, who
is the Public Health Preparedness Manager with the Lake Cumberland
District Health Department, said they are uncertain how the virus
will behave, but added that health officials believe it to be much
like the flu.
Warmer temperatures and more sunshine may help combat the spread of
the virus. That is also typically when people spend more time outside
as well, she pointed out.
Crabtree stated that test kits are available at the state lab for
COVID-19, and the health department does not do any of the testing.
They actually take the sample and send those to the lab and there is
generally a 24 hour turnaround on those results.
There are criteria set up for testing, so you can't just go in and
asked to be tested, according to Crabtree. "We don't want to bog down
the system with unnecessary testing," he explained.
Any new information regarding COVID-19 is posted as soon as
possible, he pointed out.
"We have been updating our website and our social media regularly," he said. "They are the quickest way we can be information to the media."
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