An employee of Med Center Health in Bowling Green has died due to the coronavirus, according to a social media post Monday afternoon from CEO Connie Smith.
Certified nursing assistant Wanda Johnson died early Monday, Smith wrote.
Also Monday, the Barren River District Health Department said in a news release that a third person in Warren County has died of coronavirus-related reasons, the first such death reported in the county since May 6. The health department doesn’t publicly identify coronavirus patients.
“She will never be forgotten and truly, there are no words to adequately describe the pain of this loss, both for her family and her Med Center Health family. Wanda will always be one of our health care heroes,” Smith wrote of Johnson in her social media post.
On May 12, Med Center Health reported that at least 95 employees had tested positive for the virus since mid-March. The next day, Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack announced student medical volunteers would be sent to the Bowling Green area to help with a surge in cases.
Meanwhile, the health department also reported Monday a third virus-related death in Logan County, bringing the total in its eight-county district to 23, including nine in Edmonson, six in Butler and two in Simpson.
The health department announced 1,219 total cases to date, including 785 in Warren, 206 in Butler, 94 in Logan, 47 in Edmonson, 36 in Simpson, 29 in Barren, 19 in Hart and three in Metcalfe. Of the 1,219 cases, 437 have reportedly recovered.
The Barren River Area Development District’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which uses data from the state Department of Public Health, showed 1,305 total cases Monday. Those cases include 810 in Warren, 217 in Butler, 92 in Logan, 50 in Edmonson, 39 in Allen, 38 in Simpson, 34 in Barren, 16 in Hart, six in Monroe and three in Metcalfe.
There are at least 43 cases in Allen County, according to an update Monday from the Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.
In his briefing Monday in Frankfort, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 260 new coronavirus cases statewide since Saturday, bringing the state total to 7,935.
Beshear didn’t hold a news conference Saturday or Sunday, but the state website reported 244 new cases Saturday. On Monday, Beshear announced 122 new cases Sunday and 138 new cases Monday, 52 of which are probable.
The state’s death toll also rose to 346, with two new virus-related deaths announced Saturday, three new deaths Sunday and nine new deaths Monday.
Totals often differ between the state data and local health departments because of different reporting methods.
The governor also said two more children in Kentucky have been diagnosed with the virus-related illness pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome. A 5-year-old who was hospitalized Saturday is now home, but an 11-year-old is currently still in the hospital due to the syndrome, he said.
Last week, Beshear said a 10-year-old with the illness was placed on a ventilator, but had been extubated, and a 16-year-old with the syndrome had returned home from the hospital.
State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said “children still appear to get infected (with the coronavirus), they just seem to not have symptoms when they first get infected … and for those who get this syndrome, this is very serious.”
He said those with the syndrome will likely develop symptoms weeks after recovering from the initial coronavirus infection, and their “immune system becomes overactive and attacks the blood vessels in their own body and causes a number of problems.”
Symptoms include a fever lasting several days, irritability or decreased activity, abdominal pain without another explanation, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, conjunctivitis, poor feeding and swollen and/or red hands and feet, along with red, cracked lips or a red, bumpy tongue. If your child is showing these symptoms, Stack said to call the Kentucky Pediatric Hotline 800-722-5725.
Beshear also said the state is launching a seven-month contact tracing initiative using part of the $1.6 billion in funds from the federal government Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
“The effort will help to best document COVID-positive Kentuckians, and to quickly track those that have been in very close contact with them, ask them to self-isolate, to prevent any further spread,” he said.
Beshear said the state has awarded the requests for proposal put out about two weeks ago to hire about 600 people to help with tracing, and that he’d like to get things “ramped up” over the next two weeks.
He has previously said he believes local health departments “can carry the load” for tracing until the extra workers are hired.
On Monday, Beshear was asked how the health department will determine what actions need to be taken by those who have been in contact with someone who has the virus.
“Contact tracing isn’t exact in many ways,” he said. “What they’re gonna be asked to do is going to depend on their ... proximity and the duration that they were with” the infected person.
He said the state has seen “very little spread” of the virus in transient activities, such as going to the grocery, given that “you’re not stopping to talk to people, you’re moving past each other pretty quickly … and (if you’re) not in there for an hour.”
Asked about the seven-month timeline for the initiative, Beshear said it’s based on the amount of time the state has CARES Act funding and development of a treatment or vaccine.
“It may well need to be extended, and if we’re still in this, I do believe the federal government will step up and extend the period of time that we can use that CARES Act money.”
– Follow multimedia journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.