CDC urges Americans to prepare for spread of coronavirus, Louisville Metro health official responds

CDC urges Americans to prepare for spread of coronavirus, Louisville Metro health official responds

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The CDC is encouraging Americans to prepare for the spread of the coronavirus across the country, and Louisville Metro Public Health officials told WAVE 3 News on Tuesday they are ready if any cases are confirmed in the area.

“We actually started thinking and preparing for this about three weeks ago,” Paul Kern, Louisville Metro Public Health’s Director of Emergency Preparedness, said. “The CDC is right to say, ‘Be prepared.’ I think that's one of the things they're charged with doing and we do the same thing.”

Kern said while the virus is new in the United States, they're keeping an eye on it and what is happening outside of the country.

Three weeks ago, the health department’s incident management team formed and has been meeting weekly to evaluate where things are. Kern said they are building on their response experiences from the Hepatitis A outbreak in 2017.

“We take a look at what's happening, and we take a look at how prepared we are and what we may need to ramp up or what we may need to do,” he said.

For now, Kern and his colleagues are monitoring potential coronavirus reports because there are no confirmed cases in Louisville or in Kentucky. He said there are only two cases in the country that developed in the U.S.

“They were very close family members of people who had traveled,” Kern said of the cases.

Kern said for anyone concerned about getting the virus, the best thing they can do is continue monitoring their health and take precautions. Washing hands thoroughly, covering mouths while coughing and seeing a doctor at any sign of flu-like symptoms are the most important things for people to remember to do.

“If it were to become a pandemic here, and it certainly is not, then you would have to look at what's called social distancing,” Kern said.

Social distancing includes things like working from home and avoiding large gatherings. Kern said it's not necessary to do that or run to the store to stock up on supplies right now.

“We are certainly not at that point yet and that’s something that as we watch the numbers will evolve over time,” Kern said.

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