Mayor, Health Director provide update on COVID-19 in city

March 12, 2020

Mayor Greg Fischer today updated the media on the latest impact of COVID-19 in Louisville and announced new, stricter restrictions on events and public gatherings.

There are currently two confirmed COVID-19 cases in Louisville. The newest patient is in isolation; the city has no additional information on that person. The first patient, a 69-year-old male traveler who tested positive on Sunday, has been discharged from Norton Brownsboro Hospital and is finishing his isolation at home.

During today’s briefing, the Mayor noted that “global data and data from other areas in the U.S. show us that the very best way to prevent COVID-19 from spreading is to severely restrict our interactions with other people.”

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He pointed to a recent social distancing Intervention model out of King and Snohomish counties in Washington that “shows that quickly implementing restrictive social distancing is the most effective step to significantly reduce exposure to COVID-19.”

“The earlier we can act to reduce the person-to-person spread, the less transmission will occur, the fewer people will be seriously impacted,” he said, “including those at highest risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the disease.”

“That is why, effective immediately through April 5, I am ordering that all events hosted or permitted by Louisville Metro Government or held in a Louisville Metro facility will be postponed or cancelled,” the Mayor said, adding that the city is recommending that all other events in the city also be postponed or cancelled as well.

City cancellations include such things as Library activities, as well as the Nulu Bock Fest, and the remaining Triple Crown of Running marathon series, all of which required city permits.

The Mayor added that the city is also postponing the annual Give A Day Week of Service, which was to run April 15 to 25, 2020. Many of the event’s key partners were withdrawing their participation because of concerns related to the COVID-19 virus.

Also during today’s media briefing, the Kentucky Derby Festival announced it too is postponing events on the 2020 schedule through April 5.

“This is about public health and safety, and at the Derby Festival that is always our top priority,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “We have a responsibility to the community, who has supported the Derby Festival for more than 60 years, to help with this effort.”

The Mayor said the city will continue to assess the situation as it relates to events after the April 5 date. 

He and Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) and the chief health strategist, stressed today that the other highly effective steps all residents can take are practicing the good hygiene measures the city has been emphasizing handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and staying home if you’re sick. 

Dr. Moyer added that people should follow the LMPHW guidance on illness: If you have symptoms, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Stay at home until you’re symptom free. Treat yourself as you would if you had a cold. Rest, take Tylenol or ibuprofen, and over the counter meds. If you are severely ill, please call your healthcare provider or the ER for guidance and follow their directions.

The health department advises that 80 percent of those who get infected with COVID-19 have mild illness and don’t require clinical interventions. They are able to stay home and treat with OTC products as you would for common cold, and recover.

“Our healthcare system is being overwhelmed and inundated with calls and testing requests from mildly ill individuals,” Dr. Moyer said, adding that people with mild symptoms should avoid hospitals so they can “provide the highest level of medical care to those who are the most ill.”

In other updates:

  • In the wake of Gov. Andy Beshear’s announcement today that he’s recommending that all public and private schools across Kentucky close starting Monday, March 16 for at least two weeks to protect from the spread of COVID-19, the Mayor said his team would work with partners to help address ripple effects of any school closings.
  • Metro Council filed an emergency ordinance today to help with appropriations of the Rainy Day Fund, should it be needed for the Office of Resilience and Community Services programming for vulnerable populations.
  • The Mayor and approximately 135 internal and external partners participated in a virtual preparedness training exercise today, designed to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the potential for community spread of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 is now being called a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The local health department has updated its guidelines for congregate events, including a recommendation for cancellations.

The Mayor continues is urging businesses and schools to stay informed and post informational flyers in public places. Flyers can be downloaded in English and Spanish.

Stay up-to-date on the latest about COVID-19 here and at Kycovid19.ky.gov.