Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley provided updates to the Pike County Fiscal Court Thursday about the county’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, newly listed virus symptoms and how the people of Eastern Kentucky should not let their guards down.
As of Sunday, there have been 14 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pike County so far. Of the 14 confirmed cases, four patients have recovered from the virus, eight patients are currently recovering from home and two patients died. Two of the 14 patients were also hospitalized.
During the meeting, Riley said that the county’s number of confirmed cases is a more “optimistic” number than earlier projections that local health officials received of how many cases the county could face.
“That’s an optimistic number,” Riley said. “I’m very pleased to be here to tell you that. The last time I reported to the fiscal court, the projections were much, much higher. I was basing that from a ratio that was based on what the state was projecting as well, and the numbers at the state level have been a lot lower than what they anticipated.”
However, Riley said that residents should not forget that two Pike County residents have died from COVID-19.
“We did lose two Pike County citizens,” Riley said. “Let’s not forget that. Two people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Pike County.”
Riley said seven of the 14 patients in Pike County were “asymptomatic,” or showed no symptoms of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, and some recent studies have suggested that it can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
Symptoms may appear between two and 14 days after exposure to the virus, and the CDC recently updated its list of possible symptoms that people could experience if they have COVID-19. Symptoms of the virus may include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or the loss of taste or smell.
Riley said that local health officials have also noticed the common symptom of gastrointestinal upset in local patients with COVID-19, though that symptom has not been listed by the CDC.
During the meeting, she discussed the age demographics of local patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Although older people are among the most at-risk populations if they catch the virus, Riley said she wanted to remind the public that people of all ages can have COVID-19.
According to statistics from the Pike County Health Department, of the 14 patients with confirmed cases, four patients were in their 20s, one patient in their 30s, one in their 40s, two patients in their 50s, two in their 60s and four patients in their 70s.
“I want to remind everyone that the novel coronavirus does not see age or gender, for that matter,” Riley said. “There are no county lines or state lines. There has been a wide range in age that have been diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s not age-specific.”
Riley commended the people and leadership of Pike County for their work in slowing the spread of the virus, but then added that everyone needs to continue their efforts because the region could face more cases due to a lagging period. She and other local health officials, she said, have noticed a slow spread of the virus in Eastern Kentucky, with more cases spreading from central Kentucky to Eastern Kentucky over a lagging period of about three weeks.
“I’m here to very strongly advise us that this is not the time to let our guards down or relax our behaviors,” Riley said. “What we’re experiencing in Eastern Kentucky and what I’ve seen is a slow spread from central coming east, and I think we have a three-week, at a minimum, lag. I’m extremely proud of the community for listening and complying, but this is not the time to let our guards down.”
She encouraged Pike County residents to maintain good social distancing and follow the community’s unified five-C plan: “Civic duty, Calm, Clean, Cover, Contain.”
According to the plan, people should do their civic duty to protect themselves and their communities, remain calm, clean their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, cover their sneezes with a tissue and cough into a tissue or elbow and contain themselves by staying home when you are sick or have sick family members at home.
She advised the public to use reliable resources when seeking information about the virus, and she encouraged residents to wear cloth face masks while out in public in order to protect against the virus. Cloth face masks are meant to protect other people in case you are infected, though a cloth face mask is not a substitute for social distancing.
According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. The public is discouraged from using a face mask meant for a healthcare worker.
As of May 3, there have been 5,130 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, with 253 deaths. Over 1.1 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed nationwide, with more than 65,000 deaths, according to the CDC.
The Pike County Health Department is located at 119 River Drive, and it can be reached at, (606) 437-5500, or online at, https://www.pikecountyhealth.com.
For all up-to-date information on Kentucky COVID-19 cases, visit, kycovid19.ky.gov.
For all up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website at, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.
Kentuckians can call the state’s COVID-19 hotline, 1-(800)722-5725, for questions or additional help.