MURRAY — The Calloway County Fiscal Court met in person for its regular meeting Wednesday, with the meeting being the last face-to-face business to be conducted before the Calloway County Courthouse Annex closed its doors to the public.
During the meeting, Amy Ferguson, public health director for the Calloway County Health Department, and Kim Paschall, director of nursing for the health department, were present to inform the court about what is known about the current COVID-19 pandemic. The information came as the latest case of the virus showed up in Lyon County, which was announced by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday. This marked the first official case of COVID-19 in western Kentucky.
“As of last night there are 26 confirmed, positive cases of coronavirus. The most recent one being a Lyon County man, who is 69 years old. So it is here, it is now in western Kentucky,” Ferguson said. “The health department is planning for receiving a positive case, we feel like it is just going to be a matter of time before it is here in Calloway County.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Beshear updated the total number of cases to 35.
Ferguson said that a lot of the concerns from the virus stem from what is not known about it.
“The coronavirus is a new virus, so there is a lot to learn about the transmission, the severity of this disease,” Ferguson said. “What we do know is that it is spread through respiratory droplets from persons who are infected with it. It is spread through talking, sneezing or coughing on someone, and the cases can be anywhere from very mild to severe. So this is why the social distancing is so important; that we remain six feet away from one another, we avoid crowded areas and we really follow the advice that has been given.”
Ferguson said that the health department is open and is currently operating during normal hours. She said that will remain the case until directed to do otherwise from the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
“Our role with this is communication, and it is investigation and monitoring should we receive a positive case here in Calloway County,” Ferguson said.
Paschall offered some additional information to the court in regard to the virus. This included the availability of test kits in Calloway County.
“This COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus, that is why we don’t know a lot about it,” Paschall said. “The incubation period is from two to 14 days, and typically it is around five days. So a person can have this virus, not be showing symptoms and transmit it to other people. But an important thing to know is if a person is not sick or showing symptoms, they are not going to transmit it as easily. So the most infectious time would be when they are running a fever, coughing or sneezing or things like that.
“There are testing capabilities available here in Calloway County. The private health care providers and the hospital can do testing. But since we are so limited in the number of test kits that we have, they have to follow these guidelines. Basically you have to be sick and have to be exposed to a case of COVID-19. So they are having to use some strict guidelines to do the testing.”
Paschall again stressed the need for residents in the community to practice social distancing.
“Social distancing is very important,” Paschall said. “If we get to the point where we are having to isolate people, that means they have been diagnosed and they are sick. They are to isolate themselves and to stay away from people to avoid transmission. If you hear the word ‘quarantined,’ that means people who are not sick staying away and quarantining themselves to avoid getting sick.”
Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes thanked Ferguson and Paschall for their attendance during the meeting.
“In reality, they and the hospital are at the forefront of all of this and they are working diligently,” Imes said. “They are open and will try to answer any questions of any members of the public.”
At the close of the meeting, Imes reminded the public that all government buildings would be closed to in-person business until otherwise noted. He said that business would be conducted as best as it could via phone or email.