A 59-year-old woman from Pulaski County was among the number of newly-revealed COVID-19 confirmed cases, according to Governor Andy Beshear, who made the announcement during his daily update on Thursday.

The somber news was met with a measure of hope and optimism by local leaders.

"We learned today that we have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 here in Pulaski County," said Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley. "While we are not surprised by the news, we certainly need to respond with sound leadership. We have been preparing for this day for a couple months now, and we have emergency plans in place to protect our citizens in the days and weeks to come.

"I expect we will see more cases confirmed in the near future," Kelley added. "We will get through this. We have very capable people in place to provide leadership and solutions to whatever situation may arise."

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said his concerns, first and foremost, was for the Pulaski woman who became the first local confirmed case.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow citizen who has contracted the coronavirus," Keck said. "I am hopeful for quick and full recovery and I’m confident she will receive the care to do just that. While inevitable, I understand this makes the challenge even more real for Pulaski countians.

"With concern in mind for all of the affected, the message still must remain steadfast; that we will persevere, we will overcome and we will come together to get beyond this challenge as we have always done. As a community, state and nation," Keck added. 

Earlier in the day, representatives from the Lake Cumberland District Health Department said they were investigating a case.

"There is a person of interest we are investigating," LCDHD Director Shawn Crabtree said. "We are responding as if it's confirmed; but, at this point, there are no confirmed cases," he said before the Governor's announcement.

The total number of Kentucky's known cases jumped from 35 to 47, one of which was Kentucky's second death.

The newest death was a 64-year-old male from Jefferson County who actually passed away on March 13, "but the testing has now come back," the governor said.

The health department's response in treating the case as if it were positive is indicative of the statewide efforts spearheaded by Governor Beshear to slow the virus' spread as it grips the world in a global pandemic. Most "public-facing" businesses have been ordered to close, restaurants have been restricted to carry-out or drive-thru customers, and government offices have moved as many services as possible online or via telephone.

Businesses which remain open must still practice CDC guidelines as far as social distancing and disinfecting: keeping six feet apart, cleaning surfaces, washing hands and practicing hygiene, and sending sick employees home.

The health department is charged with ensuring local compliance as well as tracking the virus.

Crabtree joined county officials earlier this week in a press conference announcing that Pulaski County is under a state of emergency at least through April 16. It is currently recommended that anyone who feels sick call ahead to their health provider before going in, so that they may be screened for potential testing and limit potential exposure.

Kelley noted that Pulaski County government would be available to assist emergency services personnel during this crisis.

"I place utmost confidence in the men and women sacrificing to serve our county," Kelley said. "Together, we will overcome the temporary storm we are facing. If you or someone you know needs assistance during this uncertain time, please call our county hotline at 606-678-4853."

Keck pointed out that the stringent self-quarantine strategy has worked in other nations.

"This pandemic is serious, but like Germany and South Korea who have executed the proper safeguards and diligence, we will quickly overcome this and begin to rebuild," the Somerset Mayor said. "My sincere prayers go out to our community, let’s continue to lift each other up."

For the latest information, visit lcdhd.org, kycovid19.ky.gov, and cdc.gov. You may also call the Kentucky COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-722-5725.

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