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Pikeville Medical Center Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Fadi Al Akhrass addresses the media and others during a press conference held Thursday afternoon at the Pike County Fiscal Courtroom regarding the county’s response to the COVID-19 virus.

Despite not having a positive case of COVID-19 in Pike County, as of yet, county leaders met Thursday afternoon to provide an update regarding the current pandemic.

On Thursday, Pike County Judge-Executive Ray Jones was joined by Pike County Health Department Director and Pikeville Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Fadi Al Akhrass as the three held a press conference regarding the latest update pertaining to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and how it will continue to affect day-to-day lives around Pike County.

Jones opened the press conference and urged individuals to continue practicing “social distancing” and good hygiene, per the recommendations from Presidents Donald Trump and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. Jones added that all county residents are still being asked to sign-up for the Rave emergency alert system, as it will have “critically important” notifications coming from county government.

According to Jones, one issue that has came to his attention over the last couple of days, is the number of individuals who have purchased an abundance of cleaning supplies, among other items, and are selling these for “exorbitant” prices.

“I would like to remind everyone that this is illegal,” Jones said. “It’s illegal under state law, it’s illegal under the governor’s executive order and let me give you a phone number to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office. The phone number you can report price-gouging is, 1-888-423-9257, and you can also contact the attorney general’s office at www.ky.gov.

Jones before turning things over to Riley and Ahkrass, said he wanted to put a few rumors to rest. According to Jones, the rumor going around that he said individuals “need” to use rubber gloves while pumping gas is “absolutely false.”

“We all have heard the basics of what we all need to do in terms of social distancing and hygiene,” Jones said. “Two main things that Tammy and Dr. Fadi I’m sure will touch on this, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer with at least 70 percent alcohol. Those are the two main things that we all can do to make sure that we do not pass this virus throughout our community.”

Another rumor that Jones touched on, is the rumor regarding individuals 70 and over being under a travel ban or a quarantine. Jones said that no such orders have been announced from the governor’s office, while urging individuals to tune into local, state and federal officials press conference, as he said those are the best source of information.

However, Jones said there will be some changes to the solid waste routes, which he said it hopes to announce via its FaceBook page.

According to Riley, the health department is receiving updates “almost hourly.” Riley said the virus is growing at an exponential level and as it spreads closer to Eastern Kentucky, there are ways to combat the spread.

“Although we don’t have mass testing, as we would like and Dr. Fadi would like, there are actions we can take today,” Riley said. “We need to practice our civil duty. We need to practice social responsibility. Be good citizens. Because, for the first time, my actions affect the community.”

Riley said she encourages the public to listen to the local, state and federal leaders and also public health leaders. She also added that individuals need to maintain keeping up the “Five Cs,” while continuing to do their civic duty and being good citizens.

Ahkrass said that, although the battle with the COVID-19 virus is just beginning, and there are currently no positive cases within the county, he is confident that PMC is prepared to handle it.

“I know people are freaking out about testing,” Ahkrass said. “This is not the solution. The solution is to practice the preventive measures.

“If you have no symptoms and you have nothing and no exposure, the rest is going to be minimum,” he added.

According to Ahkrass, testing at PMC is on an as-needed basis and stressed the importance of discussing possible symptoms with your doctor.

Ahkrass said although these times are unprecedented, individuals must maintain social distancing and practicing good hygiene and although every test PMC has administered has came back negative, the hospital has been working on an algorithm for screenings, triage and placement, as it continues to work towards keeping patients and PMC employees safe.

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