During his evening press conference on March 28, Gov. Andy Beshear listed the county locations where positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed.
We all took a collective gasp when he announced Floyd as one of those counties with a case. Later, it was found that the case was negative and Floyd County returned to the listing of counties in which a positive case of COVID-19 has not yet been diagnosed.
We’re glad that the record was corrected and, that as of print deadline on Tuesday afternoon, there hadn’t yet been an identified case of the case in our community. But we also realize that the key word in that is “confirmed.” Because of testing limitations, we don’t really know how many cases of COVID-19 there are in our country and even in our county.
Those who are diagnosed are mainly the worst cases, for now, as they’re the ones who are tested when they seek care, but it’s widely accepted among the medical community that many of those who contract this disease may experience symptoms that are rough, but for which medical treatment is not required. Those people experience only some symptoms, or, in many cases, may experience no symptoms.
That means we really don’t know how many cases of COVID-19 there are. That’s why Gov. Beshear and others have constantly repeated the refrain of assuming you and each person you meet outside your home is infected with COVID-19.
The “all clear” on the Floyd case should not, cannot, be taken as a sign that we are free of COVID-19, but simply that no one here has yet been tested and confirmed as having the virus. That will change. Eventually, there will be a case, and how we react now, and then, will determine what that means.
We don’t blame Beshear for passing along incorrect information. The governor has done an incredible job of keeping the people of the commonwealth informed and as safe as possible during this crisis and we don’t want that to stop. There are aspects of this that are so foreign, so novel, that every moment can change things and this was likely no different.
We received a lot of questions from the public after Beshear made that announcement on Saturday, but, unlike other type of media agencies, we did not report his statement until after the health department confirmed there was an error. There’s a reason we didn’t publish a story about what Beshear said immediately. The Floyd County Health Department has a notification system in place to report cases of COVID-19 in Floyd County. We understand, as should the public, that the Floyd County Health Department will ensure Floyd County residents get the information they need about this virus, as soon it is confirmed and available. And as soon as we know it, we will also publish it.
We are thankful for our local leaders, particularly the Floyd County Health Department and its Director Thursa Sloan, Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton and Floyd Judge-Executive Robbie Williams, who quickly moved Saturday to reassure the community that there was not a positive test, and also reiterated Beshear’s commands to not allow this to be an excuse to let down our guards. We appreciate their words and their actions which have staved off potential panic several times during the course of this event.
But, eventually, there won’t be a correction. Eventually, there will be a confirmed case.
We’re in this for the long haul. There’s no way to know when or how all this will end. All we can do is fight to preserve the future by acting on the recommendations that our medical community is giving us. And each person matters.
We shouldn’t need to remind people to not congregate in any of the businesses still allowed to remain open. Nor should Beshear or any other leaders, but still yet, they are having to issue the same warnings. There shouldn’t need to be a “confirmed” case for us to assume that someone out there is carrying it without knowing, or possibly even knowing something’s wrong, but being careless.
Let’s all play our part without being forced to protect the most vulnerable and, possibly, even those who are seen as less vulnerable. This virus is no respecter of persons or of boundaries. It just wants to spread and it’s very good at making that happen.
Stay informed. Act accordingly. Stay calm and take care of each other. We will get through this.