According to The New York Times at 10 p.m. CDT Wednesday, there had been 8,260 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States with 147 deaths.
A 69-year-old Lyon County male is the first confirmed coronavirus case in western Kentucky. Gov. Andy Beshear made the announcement late Tuesday afternoon.
Judge-Executive Wade White said little else was known at press time around 4:30 p.m. The local health department had begun its investigation into the case, retracing the man’s activity and notifying anyone who may have come in contact with the person infected with COVID-19.
This late-breaking story punctuated the anxiety felt around the community and will be updated on The Herald Ledger’s website and Facebook page.
Meantime, life is far from normal in Lyon County amid the now all-too-real COVID-19 pandemic, but local leaders are asking residents to continue living without fear or panic during an unprecedented period of American history.
The list of ordered closures and optional decisions to shut down businesses and services has seemingly grown by the hour over the past week, but essential operations for daily existence will continue as normal. That means electricity, gas, water, sewer, internet and phone will continue to flow to homes and businesses. Grocery stores and pharmacies will continue offering life-sustaining goods.
“We are in uncharted territory,” Eddyville Mayor John Choat said Tuesday. “I urge people to take a breath, remain calm and continue to shop local to support our community.”
Mike Oliver, manager of Food Giant in Eddyville, the county’s only full-service grocery, said his store has been swamped with customers, stripping shelves of many essentials. He compared the run on the store to another widespread disaster 11 years ago.
“It’s been the ice storm times 10,” he said Monday while restocking canned goods.
The store on Monday afternoon had been wiped clean of meat and toilet paper, and at the time, the store was limiting the purchase of milk to one gallon at a time. But Oliver said there is no need for hoarding or panic, as his store will continue to receive its usuals shipments of food and supplies from its warehouse.
“The trucks are continuing to come three times a week,” he said. “They may be running a little late, but they’ll be here.”
That includes meat and general shipments on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and dairy on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“As long as I’m walking, we’ll be open,” Oliver said.
Choat, Kuttawa Mayor Barbara Campbell and Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White remain in almost daily contact as the response to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak develops. All want to ensure local commerce will survive this trying period and are encouraging residents to do conduct any business they need at local merchants, including restaurants.
White is especially concerned about restaurants, which were ordered to close their dining areas Monday by the governor. Most will continue to offer carryout, drive-through, curbside or delivery services, but White fears traffic will be only a fraction of the normal business at local eateries.
“I’ve heard from some that say they’ll probably have to go out of business,” he said.
He is encouraging people to stop by their usual haunts and take food home or buy gift certificates to use when the coronavirus threat fades. That would allow those businesses to stay afloat with operating cash during the down period.
The closures are to try to contain the highly-contractible respiratory disease that has killed thousands worldwide and infected tens of thousands. Though the infection and mortality rates have been relatively low thus far, health officials warn that extreme measures are needed to combat the spread. The President has declared a national emergency and suggested gatherings of no larger than 10 people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects a worst-case scenario could see 214 million infected with as many as 1.7 million deaths in the United States alone. While those numbers are extreme, they paint a horrible picture of how bad things could get if communities, government and individuals do not respond accordingly by maintaining social distancing and reducing unnecessary interactions as much as possible.
Officials expect hard-hit areas to overwhelm local health care systems and worry that medical care could be limited to only people whose survival rate might be highest. People over age 60 and with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable.
Even young people who get the disease can suffer longterm or permanent respiratory damage. And even if they remain relatively unaffected, anyone who contracts the virus can easily spread it to countless others if they do not self-quarantine.
According to the World Health Organization, as of Monday, there had been 167,515 confirmed cases worldwide with 6,606 deaths. Most of those have been in China to date.
By early afternoon Tuesday, the death toll in the United States had reached 100 with 5,130 confirmed cases. Though those numbers appear low versus worldwide figures, because there has been little testing available, the actual number of cases domestically is believed to be much higher.
Updates and all a person needs to know about COVID-19 can be found on the CDC’s website at CDC.gov/coronavirus.