Ky. gets first case of deadly child syndrome; on first day of general retail reopening, Beshear asks Kentuckians to take it slow

Gov. Andy Beshear displayed these pictures of Robert Wright of Leitchfield, who died April 30.
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As news develops about the coronavirus and its covid-19 disease, this item will be updated. Official state guidance is at kycovid19.ky.gov.

By Al Cross and Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky has its first case of a rare inflammatory syndrome that could be related to the coronavirus, putting a 10-year-old into critical condition and on a ventilator, Gov. Andy Beshear announced yesterday.

On the first day that all retail stores were free to reopen, Beshear urged Kentuckians to moderate their goings-about, and pleaded with them to get tested for the virus, saying “Our challenge now isn’t getting the tests, it’s getting you to take the tests.”

About 100 children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with, and three in New York have died from, pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which appears to be caused by the corionavirus. The World Health Organization is investigating the rare condition.

Beshear and Health Commissioner Steven Stack didn’t release any more information about the Kentucky case. Stack said children ordinarily do well with the virus, but “a small number” can have an overactive immune response. He said there is concern that children don’t show symptoms as early as adults, and there isn’t much prevention to be done, other than normal precautions.

Then Beshear called for a moment of silence, and after it said, “For me as a dad of two kids right around that age, my goal is to be treating this as real. . . . One reason I wear a mask is not to bring it home to my kids.”

Health and government officials have warned Kentuckians to wear masks in public, especially as businesses reopen. “As your risk elevats, steps to mitigate that risk are what we are asking for,” he said. “If you’re wearing it, it encourages other people to wear it.  . . . If you’re not wearing it, how should you expect somebody else to wear it?”

Beshear also asked his constituents to limit their activities and not to do too much too soon. “If you worked and you got a haircut, maybe you shouldn’t also go to the grocery and do another thing,” he said. “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. . . . It’s gonna be a different summer.”
He again recalled the sacrifices of the World War II generation, saying “It was a multi-year effort that they didn’t even know they were going to win;. Knowing that we’re not looking at years, let’s continue to have the resolve to get it done, and let’s not be that generation that can so something for two months, but three months is just too long.”

Beshear reiterated that sufficient testing is needed to make reopening work, and “Our testing is catching up very quickly,” with 50 or more sites, but they need more signups. He said a Kroger-sponsored site in Corbin has 800 to 900 slots open this week. He said employers need to encourage their employees to get tested, and he suggested that faith leaders do likewise with other leaders in their churches.

Beshear said the state has confirmed 104,001 tests, but the number is low because some large, out-of-state labs haven’t reported negative tests.

After he announced new cases and deaths by age, gender and county, Beshear said “That makes it feel like it’s not real … The more I can, I want to talk about these individuals,” if families provide information. One that did was the family of Robert Wright, 66, of Leitchfield, who died April 30 after a three-week battle with covid-19.

Beshear said Wright was the father of two children, a supportive brother and attentive uncle, “a proud, seventh-generation Kentuckian” who was “an avid collector and historian . . . creative, an industrious entrepreneur” who “enjoyed fishing, hunting, hiking and especially falconry” and was a volunteer firefighter, Scout leader, Mason and “a loving and helpful man with a beautiful soul.

“Robert’s family asks all his fellow Kentuckians to please take this coronavirus seriously and to follow the practices and protocols of our health experts and what our officials recommend in order to stay safe and to say alive,” Beshear said. “Sixty-six is far too young.”

Beshear added, “Team Kentucky isn’t just how about we get through the coronavirus. It’s how we feel and care about one another. It’s about our sense of identity as Kentuckians and knowing we share so much in common … Let’s remember this is very real and the people we lose are very real.”

In other covid-19 news Monday:

  • Beshear said 246 new cases were confirmed Sunday and Monday, bringing the state’s adjusted total to 6,677. He noted that the numbers were lower than on most recent days, but said they might rise as reporting delayed by the weekend comes in.
  • Counties with the largest number of new cases over the two days were Jefferson, 49; Warren, 45; Fayette, 24; Boone, 22; Kenton, 18; and Logan, 11.
  • As a reminder that people of all ages are vulnerable, Beshear listed several children and young adults among new cases, including 6-year-olds in Boone and Warren counties.
  • He said the number of Kentuckians in intensive care for covid-19 dropped for the first time in four weeks, from 222 on Saturday to 220, and “I’ll celebrate that.”
  • Beshear reported seven deaths over the two days, for a total of 307: a 67-year-old man in Allen County; a 72-year-old man in Bullitt County, a 79-year-old woman in Hopkins County, a 69-year-old man in Henderson County, and three women in Jefferson County, 72, 73 and 90.
  • In long-term-care facilities since Friday, 27 more residents, and nine more employees have tested positive, and five more residents have died, for respective totals of 889, 365 and 181.
  • Independent living facilities that serve as more traditional apartment complexes do not have to track the number of people who test positive for the coronavirus in their facilities because they are not licensed or certified by the state. This is causing concern among many who live in them and their families, Bailey Loosemore reports for the Louisville Courier Journal.
  • An inmate at the Federal Medical Center prison in Lexington has died from covid-19, and 142 inmates and six staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
  • Stack said Saturday that limited visitation will be allowed in hospitals starting Wednesday, as part of the third phase of reopening the health-care system. The guidance says a facility may permit a patient to have a single visitor of support person. Also Wednesday, in-patient surgeries can resume at half of pre-shutdown volume.
  • Beshear said child-care centers that are being denied business-interruption claims by their insurers are being treated unfairly, because tests were not available to confirm cases in their facilities before they had to close. “Those insurers need to do the right thing and support our child-care centers because we need them,” he said.
  • The governor said he is still working on guidance for reopening child care. Asked to define just what “guidance” means in different cases, he said “must” is mandatory, while “should” means there’s no penalty for not following it, but public-health officials say not doing it is “putting your people at risk.”
  • The University of Kentucky Hospital has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement for the $6.7 million, “just-in-case,” 400-bed hospital it build at the Nutter Field House, UK football’s indoor training facility that has not been needed.  FEMA has received the request, but made no decision, UK officials told Leigh Searcy of WLEX-TV. The university paid Emergency Disaster Services of Lexington for the work.
  • A group of high-school students, part of The Prichard Committee Student Voice Team, has created a survey, with expert guidance, to investigate their peers’ experiences of learning from home during pandemic, a committee news release said. “At the heart of our work is amplifying the stories of students who are most marginalized within the public education system,” Emanuelle Sippy, a junior at Henry Clay High School in Lexington and the team’s student director, said in the release. “Almost immediately upon schools closing, it became clear that the students who are all too often unheard would be the same ones most severely impacted by the covid-19 crisis.” All Kentucky high school students are encouraged to take the 10-minute survey, which can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/svtcovid19. A Spanish survey is at surveymonkey.com/r/svtcovid19espanol.
  • Several research labs and core facilities in the University of Kentucky‘s colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy will be testing the antibodies of recovered covid-19 patients to see how long they are protected against reinfection, working to answer two questions about covid-19 immunity, “How strong is it and how long will it last?”  UK Now reports. It says UK was among the first universities in the U.S. to create coronavirus antibody tests using DNA from the virus.
  • Almost every day, Beshear encourages Kentuckians to take care of their mental health. Toward that end, one health expert tells the Herald-Leader that it’s important to do self check-ins as well as checking in on others, including kids, because acknowledge feelings of fear and discomfort is the first step in determining what is within your control.