Virus Outbreak Scramble for Tests

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S.

The first person to die from the coronavirus in southcentral Kentucky was an elderly female resident of Simpson County, according to Simpson County Judge-Executive Mason Barnes.

Barnes confirmed Monday afternoon that the woman was 90-year-old Goldie Mae Freeman.

During a phone interview with the Daily News earlier Monday, Barnes said the woman was being treated at The Medical Center at Bowling Green and she passed away early Monday morning.

“I know that she had been in the hospital for several days. … My understanding is (she died) early this morning sometime between midnight and 1 a.m.,” Barnes said.

Barnes first announced the death on Facebook about 9 a.m. Monday, calling on Kentuckians to pray for the woman’s family.

“I want to encourage everyone … to take this all very seriously, and to practice those social distancing measures, and absolutely not congregate together in large groups,” Barnes said. “We have got to take the necessary steps to mitigate this virus, or we are going to end up with several cases here in this area.”

Simpson County now has nine confirmed cases of the coronavirus after two new cases were announced Monday afternoon in a news release from the Barren River District Health Department.

Health department officials also reported an additional case in Logan County, another in Warren County and the first two cases in Edmonson County.

The 29 total cases throughout the eight-county Barren River district area include one in Barren County, one in Butler County, two in Edmonson County, three in Logan County, nine in Simpson and 13 in Warren County. Officials say four of those 29 people have recovered from the virus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.

During a news conference Monday evening, Beshear announced there are at least 480 confirmed cases in the commonwealth, 42 of which were newly confirmed.

The announced increase Monday was smaller than Sunday, when Beshear announced at least 45 additional confirmed cases, and Saturday, when the state saw its largest spike to date with at least 92 newly confirmed cases.

“I think that it shows that our actions matter,” Beshear said. “But know (that) we’re probably not gonna have many more days in the next couple weeks where we only have 42 new cases.”

In addition to Freeman’s death, Beshear announced during his daily news conference Monday that an 88-year-old woman from Kenton County also died due to the virus, bringing the total number of deaths statewide to 11.

Beshear also discussed an executive order he signed Monday that limits Kentuckians’ out-of-state travel, with exemptions including travel for work, groceries, taking care of loved ones, health care-related reasons and if mandated by a court order.

Under the order, Kentuckians who return from out of state for a reason outside those exemptions must self-quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, Beshear also signed Senate Bill 150 into law, which “creates flexibility in” the state’s telehealth system and unemployment insurance eligibility, bars medical procedures that are deemed non-emergent and permits the delivery of alcohol.

Toward the end of the news conference, Beshear urged Kentuckians to do their part in combating the spread of the virus.

“If we are the generation that had to, in a way, stay away from each other in the most connected world that we have ever seen … to take on a worldwide pandemic and come out of it better as a state than we have ever seen, that would say something about us – that would say we are also a great generation of great people,” Beshear said.

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