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Additional information on first reported case of COVID-19 in NKY; 66-year-old Kenton County woman

Note: This story has been updated

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune staff

As first reported Wednesday, Northern Kentucky has its first case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The individual is a 66 year-old female, who resides in Kenton County.

She remains in isolation at St. Elizabeth Hospital at Ft. Thomas.

COVID-19 ranges from a mild to severe upper respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Most people who are infected with COVID-19 have a mild to moderate illness and recover at home. However, some people are more likely to have severe illness requiring hospitalization, including the elderly and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lung diseases.

A virtual press conference was conducted Wednesday to provide additional information and to answer questions. Dr. Lynne Saddler, NKY Health’s District Director of Health and Dr. Larry Kendall, senior vice president and chief medical officer at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, provided the additional insight.

“We knew that it was only a matter of time before we started seeing cases here in Northern Kentucky,” Saddler said. “The Northern Kentucky Health Department and our community partners have been preparing for COVID-19, for a number of weeks now. All of us must do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by frequently washing our hands; avoiding touching our eyes, nose and mouth; avoiding close contact with ill people; covering coughs and sneezes properly; and staying home when we are sick.”

Kenton County Administration and Emergency Management are partnering with NKY Health and St. E,  and are supporting their efforts with regard to COVID-19.

Kendall said there has been a infectious disease response team in place at St. Elizabeth for a number of years.

Dr. Kendall

“We have been preparing for this latest illness for some time as well,” Kendall said. “Our clinical team has taken proper precautions and followed the appropriate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and recommendations to help prevent exposure to other patients and caregivers. In keeping with our policies regarding privacy, no specific information about the patient is available at this time.”

Kendall explained why the patient who lives in Kenton County, was admitted to a hospital in Fort Thomas (in Campbell County) Tuesday.

“(It’s) part of preparations for dealing with patients with COVID -19,” Kendall said. “We have special units set up across our system that have the appropriate type of negative air flow that is required for care of these patients.”

It’s not yet known if the woman contracted the virus locally or if she traveled outside the region and may have gotten it elsewhere.

“We, at the health department do not know at this point in time,” Saddler said. “We will be doing an investigation to try to better understand where she might have contracted the virus from.”

It’s also not clear how long it might take to determine that.

Saddler said the investigation is in the early stages. Until NKY Health staff can talk to the patient, they will not know who else may have been exposed, or possibly exposed her to the virus.

That information will be critical for potential testing and providing advice to those who may have been exposed on how to monitor for symptoms.

“In all of Northern Kentucky that we cover, it’s difficult to say. We have to get a better handle on how many people that she has been exposed to,” Saddler said. “In Northern Kentucky, just like the rest of the region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we do expect to see more cases.”

Dr. Saddler

A good rule of thumb at this time is for everyone to watch for symptoms.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department continues to work with the Kentucky Department for Public Health and local health care providers to monitor and screen for potential cases, educate the public on what they can do to prevent the spread of illness, and stay up to date on the latest information.

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, and have a fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about any recent travel, and/or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, and your symptoms. You should also avoid contact with others to prevent them from becoming sick.

While this is the first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in Northern Kentucky, there may well be others that have not yet been identified through testing.

“On any given day, there are people who may have been tested and have test results pending,” Saddler said. “At this point in time, I do not know how many test results are pending, obviously, that number can change from day to day. We have had people tested just about every day for a number of weeks.”

Northern Kentucky is not currently performing the type of drive-up tests that are being conducted in other parts of the country. Those being tested at this point are people at high risk that show symptoms, those that may have been exposed, and patients admitted to the hospital with symptoms.



Kendall said test results from the state lab can come back in a day or two and results from a private lab typically take three-to-five days.


At this time, most people in the area still have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus, but it is almost certain that additional cases will be identified in the coming days and weeks.

Kendall said more than 80 percent of the people who have the COVID-19 virus will “actually feel perfectly well.”

“If you wouldn’t seek out care at a hospital or physicians center (for symptoms), you should continue to follow these guidelines as well,” Kendall said.

It is important to emphasize again that the best way to help protect yourself and your family from disease is by washing your hands and cleaning/disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others, and avoid non-essential travel.

Saddler encouraged all of the region’s residents to go the COVID-19 page on the NKY Health website  for more information and to check back frequently for updates.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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One Comment

  1. There are people that are sick and say they still can’t obtain a test for the virus. It they are running a temp. and have other symptoms why are they not tested. When are we all going to be tested for the virus?

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