Green River District Health Department officials announced Tuesday a Daviess County resident has died of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Health department officials declined to disclose the resident’s age or gender.

Owensboro Health officials did not release any personal information either, but confirmed the person died at OH Regional Hospital.

“On behalf of our leaders, caregivers and staff, we offer our deepest sympathies to this family and all families and loved ones of those affected by COVID-19 in our community and beyond,” said Dr. Michael Kelley, OH vice president of medical affairs. “As a way to honor those who have been affected, we encourage members of our community to stay diligent in practicing social distancing to help us stop the spread of COVID-19 and reduce exposure for both our neighbors and health care workers.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, OHRH had two other patients who tested positive for the coronavirus. One is being treated in the critical care unit. The other patient required a lower level of care, OH officials said.

Ten other OHRH patients are waiting for results. To minimize spread of the virus, the hospital staff assumes patients will test positive until their results return.

“We treat anyone under investigation like they have (the coronavirus),” said Dr. Francis DuFrayne, OH chief medical officer.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday afternoon seven new deaths as a result of the coronavirus.

The Daviess County resident was not among them. Since the beginning of the governor’s daily updates, he has cautioned people about possible lags in information.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Beshear’s office reported a total of 17 Kentuckians who had died and nearly 600 had tested positive.

The governor, again, called on state residents to practice social distancing, which can save lives.

“More than ever in our lives, every decision we make has consequences on other people,” he said, “even people we don’t know.”

In new actions, Beshear expanded child care options to cover the children of grocery store workers. In March, he closed day care facilities, except those that provide services to health care workers and first responders. Statewide capacity exists to provide child care services to grocery store workers’ children, he said, and those workers are essential to the health and well-being of Kentuckians.

Beshear also signed an executive order Tuesday that allows local governments to rehire retired emergency management, law enforcement officers and corrections officers without any penalty to their retirement benefits.

Green River District Health Department reported Tuesday one new coronavirus case in each of these three counties: Daviess, Henderson and Webster.

To date, total confirmed cases in Daviess County has reached 34. Henderson has five, and Webster has two.

Hancock and Union counties had no new confirmed cases Tuesday, leaving their totals at one and two, respectively.

McLean County has had no confirmed cases to date. An earlier preliminary lab result was misinterpreted and reported incorrectly, GRDHD officials said.

“We don’t want this news to give (McLean County) residents a false sense of security,” Clay Horton, public health director, said in a press release. “People still need to be vigilant in helping stop the spread. We know there are COVID-19 cases in our communities, and the lab-confirmed cases are only a portion of what is in the community.”

Muhlenberg County Health Department officials announced another new case Tuesday, bringing that county’s total to 10.

OH is working on an in-house coronavirus testing solution, Kelley said. He estimated it may take another two weeks before the health system can test its own specimens.

The health system will be able to process about 200 tests per day when the program is operational, he said.

Because of shortages in medical supplies, OH would not test any resident who made a request, Kelley said. The health system would continue to follow state and federal guidelines for taking swabs.

DuFrayne is concerned about residents becoming complacent and not obeying the governor’s directives about social distancing.

“I’ve noticed in the community more people are getting out,” DuFrayne said. “We want to remind people we are in the middle of this pandemic.”

A friend sent him photographs over the weekend of people hosting backyard barbecues. Now is not the time to let up on measures to prevent the coronavirus’ spread, DuFrayne said.

Communities in OH’s service area are smaller and more rural than hard-hit hotspots in larger metro areas, but people shouldn’t be fooled.

“There’s a degree of protection,” DuFrayne said of western Kentucky’s rural nature. “It won’t last forever.”

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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