Coronavirus sparks questions, but flu remains top concern in Kentucky

Coronavirus sparks questions, but flu remains top concern in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, stocks on Monday tumbled around the world, including NASDAQ and the Dow Jones Industrial Index.

The financial declines follow steep losses in Asia and Europe as investors take in the risks to corporate profits and economic growth posed by the spread of the deadly virus.

Meanwhile, the spread of the coronavirus to other countries and increased reports of deaths have more people worried here at home. Kentucky health officials want to be prepared if there are any confirmed cases in the Commonwealth in the future.

Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for Kentucky’s Department of Health and Family Services, said meetings are happening to make sure the state is prepared.

Others like Sydnie Shockley are wondering as we’re seeing more masks worn and more countries are affected by coronavirus what will happen next. WAVE 3 News spoke with Schockley as she was getting a flu shot Monday.

“The fact that you can’t just get vaccinated for it is kind of scary,” Shockley said.

Roanya Rice, the public health director for Kentucky’s North Central District -- which includes Henry, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble counties -- told WAVE 3 News that “people want to know what the symptoms are and they’re very similar to the flu. There’s cough, respiratory symptoms and a fever, but the difference is you pretty much need to have been in an area exposed to where it’s circulating and been exposed to someone who has it.”

Then the question becomes how long until a case is confirmed locally?

“It can be an airplane ride away, so we are looking at traveling people returning from the area,” she said. “If they have been to affected areas or have been in contact with someone that has, making sure they are monitoring their temperature for 14 days.”

Fisher told WAVE 3 News about 200 people have been self-monitoring after returning from China or being around someone who has, but most of those people have passed the incubation phase, none was under investigation for Coronavirus.

“I just think when people feel bad they should go to the doctor,” Shockley said. That’s the best advice around, as new flu cases top the concerns of Kentucky health officials, not the coronavirus.

“Kentucky has had 66 deaths so far from the flu,” Rice said, adding that it is peak time. Just last week, she said, Kentucky had 1,854 new flu cases and 19,057 this season.

The state’s North Central Health Departments are offering free flu shots until they run out. Shockley said she was getting her first one ever.

“I have gotten sick the past few years, and if I can prevent that happening again, I would because I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, it’s not fun,” she said.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health issued the following statement late Monday afternoon:

Kentucky is closely monitoring the international situation and working to protect the commonwealth’s population in many ways. The Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) continues to provide guidance for clinicians and health care providers about who might be at risk for novel coronavirus so that people can be appropriately tested and handled to reduce any risk of exposure to others. We have prepared local health department staff and our network of regional epidemiologists and public health preparedness coordinators about what to do if they have a person who might have possible exposure to novel coronavirus, such as those who traveled recently from China, or who had close contact with a confirmed case patient. We have an active system in place to educate those who might have been exposed about what symptoms to look for, to report daily to public health officials and immediately let us know if they experience any symptoms. We also advise people who might be at risk to do several other things, such as active hand-washing, practicing social-distancing, and avoiding public gatherings in order to reduce the possibility of anyone transmitting disease. We need to emphasize that at this point in time we have not identified anyone with 2019-Novel Coronavirus in Kentucky.

If the situation changes, and we start seeing person-to-person transmission in Kentucky, we have plans in place to help reduce the impact of diseases like novel coronavirus. These include such things as working with the Kentucky Hospital Association to increase health care capacity to manage larger numbers of patients, providing public education and guidance on home isolation and quarantine processes, and advising health care agencies on how to conserve personal protective equipment, such as N95 respirators, so that health care workers remain safe. In these types of situations, such as when we experienced the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009-2010, KDPH (Kentucky Department for Public Health) continues to collect information on people who test positive so that we can determine the impact of the illness, and where to target our prevention efforts. We also work with the federal government to obtain additional funding for such things as medical services and supplies, provision for people in quarantine and isolation where needed, and transportation services for people in affected areas. We also work with the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) to ensure that we have adequate and protected medical transportation services in agencies across Kentucky for those who become ill and require medical transportation to a hospital.

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