Murray Calloway County Hospital identifies first Calloway County resident with COVID-19

(Elizabeth Erwin/The News)

Daniella Tebib

News Editor

Addison Watson

Staff Writer

An employee of Murray Calloway County Hospital tested positive for COVID-19 and has since been quarantined in their home, making them the first Calloway County resident to test positive for the virus.

The employee was exposed to the virus having attended a local church service on Sunday, March 15, with another churchgoer from out of state who tested positive for the virus shortly after the service, according to the Murray Calloway County Hospital press release. The employee informed the hospital of their mutual interaction and was taken to occupational medicine for further evaluation. 

The University Church of Christ made a Facebook post on Thursday, March 19, warning members of the reported case after a visitor attended their service from out of state. The post was taken down hours later and the Facebook page has been deleted since then.

The employee was already wearing a face mask and followed hospital protocol properly, according to the press release. The employee was undergoing routine staff temperature checks prior to the start of their shifts per protocol by the hospital.

The employee was then immediately instructed to return home and self-quarantine. The employee’s positive test result came on Thursday, March 19. The employee and their family are said to be doing well in quarantine, according to the press release.

Kim Paschall, director of nursing for the Calloway County Health Department, said the health department believes the risk to the public is low, but they will continue to communicate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kentucky Department for Public Health in order to identify and contact those who may have been exposed to COVID-19. 

“The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus,” Paschall said.

Journey Church in Murray created a Facebook page called For Calloway on Wednesday, March 18, to provide updated information from local health professionals, government officials, Chamber of Commerce and business leaders, and service organization representatives regarding “how to best service” the community. 

“At Journey Church, we’re committed to [serving] our community by hosting this page and creating a platform for everyone to stay informed,” according to the page. “Together, we will navigate these challenges and emerge stronger as a community.”

Dr. Nicholas Odell, chief medical officer at Murray Calloway County Hospital, and Jeff Eye, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services answered questions from viewers on the For Calloway Facebook page live-stream on Friday, March 20. To watch the livestream, click here.

If a question was missed or unanswered, viewers will have another opportunity to ask questions on Monday, March 22, at noon on its Facebook page.

In Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily press conference on Friday, March 20, he answered a question about the case reported in Calloway County.

“I have seen a Facebook post from a church in Calloway County that chose to hold services this last Sunday,” Beshear said. “Folks, as a person of deep faith I did not want to have to recommend that we not do church services, but understand, when I make these recommendations, it is about the health and safety of all of our people.”

Beshear also discussed several new actions the state is taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on Friday, March 20. As of press time 63 Kentuckians had tested positive for COVID-19.

Among the many updates, Beshear announced all 172 school districts of Kentucky have stopped in-person classes upon his request to cease in-person instruction until at least April 20.

Beshear has also been working with the Small Business Administration to help the impact on small businesses, for-profit contractors and private non-profits in Kentucky who have been harmed by the pandemic. The entire state of Kentucky is now qualified for SBA disaster certification. With the certification, small businesses, for-profit contractors and private non-profits are now eligible to apply for low-interest SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. To read the full certification, click here. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications can be completed and filed online here.

Impacted businesses should work with their banks, credit unions and other lenders. To help businesses, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is encouraging financial institutions to quickly work with customers.

Beshear is also asking those who have started their unemployment insurance applications to have them finished on Saturday, March 21, by 11:59 p.m. to ensure their data is saved for the week or the application process will have to be redone. In the last week, the unemployment rate has grown to be more than 30 times what it was last year, which was around 2,000 people filing per week.

Similarly to the federal government, Beshear has delayed the tax filing deadline by three months. The deadline was originally April 15, but it has been extended to July 15.

Stay tuned to The News as we continue to follow how COVID-19 is affecting the Murray community.