Mayor, officials and local external partners outline COVID-19 precautions

March 10, 2020

Mayor Greg Fischer and officials today met with roughly 70 local stakeholders and external partners to outline the latest information on the city’s preparedness work related to COVID-19. He was joined by Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) and the city’s chief health strategist; Amy Hess, chief of public services; and representatives from Metro Council, Louisville Tourism, Muhammad Ali International Airport, JCPS, and local schools, businesses and non-profits.

“We do well as a city when we come together,” said the Mayor. “We are grateful for a strong partnership with Governor Beshear, the state Public Health Department, and our external partners. We know that we have to work together to get through this, and we are committed to sharing information as quickly as we can.”

The Mayor said there remains one confirmed case in Louisville, and the general risk to Louisville-area residents remains low. The individual, a 69-year-old male traveler, is in isolation at Norton Brownsboro Hospital. The Washington D.C. Health Department has confirmed a D.C. resident who attended a conference last month at the Omni Louisville Hotel and was later diagnosed with COVID-19 was not infectious while in Louisville.

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Regarding upcoming events, the Mayor advised that, at this time, no major community events have been cancelled, and, in the case of events like the Kentucky Derby, “time is on our side.” He said his administration is “is gathering information, getting the best recommendations from health experts and will make decisions and recommendations based on public health and public safety.”

“We want our visitors coming to feel welcome and safe,” said Karen Williams, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism. “We are in active conversation with convention clients letting them know the steps we are taking to keep their attendees safe, including regimented cleaning procedures, additional hand sanitizers placed in venues, and posting CDC guidelines throughout the trade show floors.” 

Noting the Kentucky Derby Festival is 38 days away, Matt Gibson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) said, “The festival is moving forward, and we are evaluating all events on a case-by-case basis. Community-support items like hand sanitizer, handwashing stations and public health signage have been preordered by KDF and will have an increased presence at all venues.” Gibson also said KDF has organized an internal COVID-19 task force that is watching best practices across the country and will remain in constant communication with the Mayor’s Office and the state.

Asked during today’s meeting about the possibility of closing schools, Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of JCPS said the district is “educating students on good hygiene and communicating with parents, Metro and state health and education departments about if and when to close schools.”  Pollio added that, “if classes are cancelled, students will be given supplemental activities to continue learning outside of the classroom. And the district will be evaluating all travel options and will make decisions in consultation with LMPHW and the state.”

Dr. Lori Caloia with LMPHW outlined steps businesses can take to protect its employees, such as giving flexibility to telework, increasing the cleaning of high-touch surfaces, offering more opportunities for handwashing and sharing messages about social distancing.

Earlier today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced strict restrictions on visitation to state-run senior and long-term care facilities across the Commonwealth. Dr. Moyer added that older people, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are most vulnerable to serious disease and death from COVID-19 and pointed to the outbreak in a nursing home in the state of Washington. “I know families may find not being able to see their loved ones a hardship, but, right now, that is the ultimate act of love,” she said. 

In addition, Dr. Moyer stressed that anyone receiving a call from the CDC or LMPHW should answer questions promptly and honestly.

On Wednesday, the administration will be participating in a conference call with the White House, and Dr. Moyer will be addressing Louisville Metro Council on COVID-19.  A preparedness training exercise is planned for Thursday with internal and external partners.

The Mayor is urging businesses and schools to stay informed and post informational flyers in public places. Flyers can be downloaded in English and Spanish here. Reports of price gouging can be made to 1-888-432-9257.

Mayor Fischer closed the meeting by reminding everyone to share and practice these simple but powerful steps to minimize the spread of the virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Avoid contact with sick people, and stay home if you are sick.

Visit kycovid19.ky.gov or call 1-800-722-5725 with questions. Find attached a document regarding guidance related to schools, businesses, and events.