By Greg Bird
Less than five days after a court order was obtained to impose a quarantine on McCreary County’s first positive patient for the COVID-19 virus, that order has been lifted due to the patient presumably recovering from the illness.
Lake Cumberland District Heath Department officials confirmed Tuesday morning that the 20-year-old female, identified as McCreary County’s first COVID-19 patient has been released from quarantine, and is no longer required to self-isolate. A second female in the residence, also subject to the quarantine order, is apparently still required to remain inside the residence until further notice.
Last Thursday Circuit Court Judge Paul K. Winchester signed an order declaring the McCreary County individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and another individual in the household were to be quarantined for at least 14 days due to their actions in not following prescribed health mandates from the Lake Cumberland District Health Department.
According to the court documents the quarantine order was for 14 days, but both residents could be released from the order after the occupants show evidence of being asymptomatic for fever or cough and two negative tests for the virus – or as otherwise recommended by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or a physician.
Health Department officials stated Tuesday that they follow CDC and Kentucky Department of Health guidelines when determining a release from quarantine. Those guidelines state: “At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever reducing medication and improvement in respiratory symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath), and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
What has caused concern in the public is the timing of the events, with less than 14-days passing between the order and the release. But, it is important to remember other factors could be at play. Sources familiar with the situation report the female was sick prior to obtaining testing and the subsequent positive test, so she could have already been mostly recovered from the illness by the time the order was issued.
The order was requested last week by Sheriff Randy Waters and LCDHD officials after repeated requests for the individuals to stay in their residence and avoid contact with anyone outside. County Attorney Austin Price prepared the order and presented it to the Judge, who officially signed it.
Last Tuesday the 20-year-old female from Pine Knot was officially informed by heath district officials of a positive COVID-19 test result and was asked to self-quarantine. An affidavit from a representative from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services states the individuals had refused to cooperate with the requests to self-quarantine, and posed a risk of spreading the virus to others.
The order further stated the individuals must answer assessments from the LCDHD and identify any places and individuals they may have visited with whom they were within six feet for longer than two hours between February 20 and March 26. They were also required to take their temperature twice daily and send the results to health officials.
The quarantine order is for 14 days, but both residents may only be released from the order after the occupants both show evidence of being asymptomatic for fever or cough for 14 days. The LCDHD can determine that additional quarantine time may be required and would file a motion with the Court to extend the duration of the isolation.
Kentucky Revised Statute 214.020 and KAR 2:050 gives the health district authority to impose quarantines in such cases.
LCDHD officials released the following statement regarding anyone who fails to follow stay-in-place requests:
“Anyone who violates an isolation order from the health department will be referred to the County Attorney with the goal of obtaining court-ordered compliance which may result in being monitored by the local police/sheriff’s office via in-person or electronic surveillance.”