In Pike County, 22 cases of COVID-19 have been identified so far, with several of them now being classified as “probable cases,” as of presstime Monday, May 11.

Last week, the Pike County Health Department announced it had identified seven new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), though classifying many of those new cases as being “probable cases.”

On May 5, Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley announced four new cases of COVID-19 in Pike County. On May 8, the Pike County Health Department announced two cases had been identified, and it identified another case on May 9.

On Monday, May 11, the Pike County Health Department announced two more cases, totaling 22 cases in Pike County so far.

Riley said that she and the health department have added an additional category to the identified COVID-19 cases. The new category is “probable cases,” which are identified through antibody testing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibody testing for COVID-19 is used to help determine how much of the U.S. population has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. An antibody test looks for the presence of antibodies, which are specific proteins made in response to infections.

“When we announce a probable case, that means that the individual has received a presumptive laboratory result, which means detection of a specific or total antibody and they have met an epidemiological link or a clinical criteria,” Riley said. “For example, if a patient had a serology test and a certain antibody was detected, then that individual has had epidemiological linkage, which would be like close contact with an individual who had a COVID-19 case, or they have symptoms, which meets the clinical criteria.”

During her May 5 announcement, Riley said that “probable cases” are treated the same as confirmed cases.

“Probable is based on serology, or blood work, antibody testing,” Riley said. “So I will be identifying those cases as probable versus confirmed. They are treated the same as a confirmed case, and those individuals are contacted and the epidemiologist and nurse administrator works with their direct contacts, the same as a confirmed case.”

The health department announced five new cases — the 14th, 17th, 20th, 21st and 22nd cases — as being confirmed for the virus. They were identified as being a 32 year-old female, a 68 year-old male, a 74 year-old male, a 22 year-old female and a 70 year-old female.

The remainder of the new cases — the 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th cases — have been identified as “probable cases.” They have been identified as being a 41 year-old female, a 53 year-old male, a 57 year-old female and a 31 year-old female.

The 68 year-old male has been hospitalized, and the rest are recovering at home. Riley said that the individuals and their contacts have been notified.

Based on this new classification, the health department announced that, of the 22 cases identified in Pike County so far, 18 cases have been confirmed, and four cases are considered probable cases.

Riley said that she expects the county to have more identified cases as the state and the region continue testing.

“Public health expects confirmed and probable cases to continue to increase because our testing capacity has increased,” Riley said.

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 of COVID-19 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. Symptoms may appear two-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Riley 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.

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.

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