Mayor and officials outline ongoing plans to respond to Louisville’s first COVID-19 case

March 9, 2020

Mayor Greg Fischer today outlined the latest information on the city’s preparedness efforts related to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

He was joined by Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness and the city’s chief health strategist; Eric Friedlander, acting secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services; Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools; Russ Cox, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare; and Dr. Jason Smith of the University of Louisville, as well as Nicole Yates, District Director for Congressman John Yarmuth, and Metro Council President David James.

There is now one confirmed case in Louisville, and, though the risk to the general public here remains low, the Mayor said, “The situation is evolving rapidly, and given what we know about the disease, we can expect to see more cases. So, the question is, how do we mitigate the impact?”

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After a morning meeting with Louisville Metro Government chiefs and directors, he said, steps are being taken to ensure “we are prepared in those places where residents interact with government,” and to protect city workers.

The city is, for example, making sure that city facilities, including libraries, community centers and other high-use public spaces, are clean, he said, and is putting up notices to remind the public how to avoid getting sick, which is primarily: Wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home if you are sick, and stay away from those who are sick.

In an effort to keep Louisville residents informed, the Mayor announced there will be daily media briefings, and he encouraged residents to sign up for LENSAlert, which advises residents – on mobile phones, landlines, email, text, social media – of information related to any kind of public emergencies. Residents can also sign up for COVID-19 updates from the Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness here.

He also urged local businesses, schools and others to print and post flyers that the local public health department has created about the virus and ways to avoid getting sick. The flyers can be found here.

Both he and Dr. Moyer reminded residents that if they have questions about the virus, they should call the Kentucky coronavirus hotline: 1-800-722-5725 or visit Kycovid19.ky.gov.

Mayor Fischer said he and his team are in daily conversation with state officials about the disease, and that meetings are planned this week with stakeholders and partners, ranging from MSD and TARC to business, hospital and nursing home representatives.

He added that a preparedness training exercise is planned for Thursday to ensure that all partners are on the same page regarding community spread of COVID-19.

“Our No. 1 priority is public health and public safety,” the Mayor said, adding that any decisions or recommendations would be based on that.

Dr. Moyer said the Metro Public Health and Wellness Department is recommending that people who are 60 and older or those who have underlying chronic medical conditions practice social distancing, and that nursing home and long-term care facilities restrict visitations. She reiterated that we all can do our part by practicing thorough handwashing, covering our coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick.

Dr. Pollio said schools are in daily contact with the Health Department and that as of now, classes will continue as planned.

“With more than 98,000 students and 17,000 employees in JCPS, we are taking every precautionary measure to reduce any potential spread of the virus,” Dr. Pollio said. “Our safety team has a plan in place that we implemented in the early stages of the global outbreak of the illness. We want all of our families to know the safety and well-being of our students continue to be priorities for us in Jefferson County Public Schools.”

“We all a have a role to play in this, keeping yourself healthy, and keeping others healthy,” said Mayor Fischer. “Following the guidelines issued by the state and local government, our community will get through this, together.”