Mayor, Health Director provide update on COVID-19, stressing there are no cases in Louisville or Kentucky

February 27, 2020

Mayor Greg Fischer and Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and the city’s Chief Health Strategist, today addressed media about the coronavirus (COVID-19), stressing that while there are no confirmed or suspected cases in Louisville or Kentucky or Indiana, city and state health officials are monitoring the situation and are ready to respond if necessary.

“While the concern over coronavirus is new, preparing for emergencies and disasters and potential threats is part of our DNA at Metro Government,” said the Mayor. “Louisville responded to the hepatitis A outbreak of 2017, with the CDC calling our response the gold standard. Metro Government also dealt successfully with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, when we administered more than 22,000 immunizations in a day and a half at drive-thru and walk-in clinics.”

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The Mayor added that, “While the situation with COVID-19 is evolving and Louisvillians continue to be at very low risk, we are in contact with the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Kentucky Department for Public Health.”  

Fischer also pointed out that Muhammad Ali Airport in not a place where travelers from outside the U.S. arrive directly from other countries and that those who land at SDF have already been screened for COVID-19 in other places. 

“Let me remind everyone that in Louisville we are at far greater risk from the flu than from COVID-19," said Dr. Sarah Moyer.  “This year we’ve had more than 7,600 confirmed flu cases in Louisville with 8 deaths.”

Dr. Moyer added that while there presently is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, there are some simple things everyone can do to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including the flu and COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. If your child is sick, keep her or him home from school or daycare.

According to the CDC, there are presently 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Of these cases, 12 involved persons who had traveled to infected countries and 2 were close personal household contacts of those people. One recent case is of unknown origin. Another 45 cases have been detected among Americans being repatriated from Hubei Province China on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Last night, the CDC announced an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 in a California person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19.

It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States. Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It’s also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected. 

“This new case underscores the importance of our being ready to respond to COVID-19 in Louisville,” said Dr. Moyer. “And we are ready.”

“We have an Office of Emergency Preparedness and have activated our emergency response team that was successful in bringing the hepatitis A outbreak under control. We are in regular communications with CDC as well as our state and local partners including local hospitals healthcare systems and healthcare providers,” she said.

The Mayor closed his remarks by noting, “We will continue to welcome visitors to our city” and that Louisville Tourism confirms that all conventions planned for spring and summer are still happening. "We’re moving ahead with the big events planned for the spring – Thunder, the Derby Festival and Derby 146 – is running on Saturday May 2.”