Health Department officials discussed the possibility of the novel coronavirus being in the local community before the first official cases, as well as how local marinas are handling the possible influx of tourists, during the department's weekly information update which was held on Wednesday, May 6.
Dr. Christine Weyman, medical director for the Lake Cumberland
District Health Department (LCDHD), said that it was possible cases
of COVID-19 were circulating in the area as early as Christmas.
She was responding to a question from the public as to whether
people who had COVID-like symptoms in December or January and who had
tested negative for the flu may have had the coronavirus.
"It is definitely possible that these people with the appropriate
symptoms did have COVID in December," she said. "Before a pandemic
eventuates, the virus can be circulating in the community without
being noticed. So these symptoms are very possibly COVID-19."
She said that people who think they may have already had the disease
can be tested to see if antibodies are present in their system, which
would be indicative that they had the disease.
Dr. Weyman said there is not enough evidence right now to know how
long a patient would have immunity to the disease after they
recovered from it.
"However, since we are also using plasma from recovered patients to
treat active cases, I assume that at least initially or shortly after
the illness, people must be immune to some degree," she said.
LCDHD officials also answered a question about whether they were
concerned about the return of the "Ohio Navy" or out-of state boaters
who will use Lake Cumberland for recreation this summer.
LCDHD Executive Director Shawn Crabtree said "We're looking for
extra guidance from the governor's office about the marinas and so
forth. … We are concerned about anyone coming into our state from a
state where there are more active cases."
Environmental Director Stuart Spillman added that marinas currently
are open, but must adhere to current guidelines concerning social
distancing and not allowing social gatherings.
"Of course, the marinas are open to boating, and you can still rent
boats. They have to be cleaned and sanitized after each rental. Or,
you can come onto your own boat," he said.
Spillman said that one current guideline set out by Governor Andy
Beshear was that anyone who came into Kentucky from out of state is
required to quarantine for 14 days, and although that was being
challenged in a higher court, that guideline is still in effect
Also in effect is the rule that there be no social gatherings until
May 25, when the governor has allowed gatherings of fewer than 10
people to take place.
"Certainly, social gatherings are not approved right now," Crabtree
said, adding that preventing those gatherings was the number one way
the community has of stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Crabtree and other officials celebrated the seemingly slow spreading
of the disease currently in the Lake Cumberland area, saying that the
past few days have seen very few new cases emerge.
"It seems like the social distancing and things that the governor
has implemented are working well," Crabtree said.
Currently, cases are doubling every 25 days, as opposed to doubling
every three to four days like they were a couple of weeks ago,
He acknowledged that could change with the reopening of businesses
taking place this week.
"As the economy starts to open back up and people start getting out
and moving around, we expect to see some cases, and the new case rate
to increase. Hopefully not back to the point where its doubling every three to four days," he said.
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