UK briefs on COVID-19 response, campus health measures


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Natalie Parks

UK Healthcare experts and administrators updated the Lexington community on their COVID-19 response at a media advisory meeting on Tuesday morning.

Dr. Mark Newman, executive vice president for health affairs, said there was still only one coronavirus case at UK Healthcare and that the patient in question is getting better.

Dr. Derek Forster, medical director for UK HealthCare and a specialist in infectious diseases, said there was community spread in Kentucky and reiterated the importance of practicing basic measures like washing your hands and staying home when sick.

“Everybody needs to really take that seriously and understand that as we move forward from a population and community standpoint,” said Forster.

Forster said he expected testing capacity to increase as commercial labs come online by means of an FDA grant.

“Testing appears to be more available nationwide starting last Friday,” said Forster.

Forster said he expected, as the Governor Andy Beshear does, for Kentucky to have more cases moving forward.

He said UK Healthcare is following the guidance of the CDC and state health department on exposure protocol.

“We didn’t have any high-risk exposure,” said Forster.

The CDC classifies anybody providing care as low-risk, he said.

“For those folks, they are monitoring their symptoms every day and they’re following up with our staff about that,” said Forster. “For the low-risk exposure they can continue to work”

Kim Blanton, director for UK Healthcare, said UK had the necessary supply of personal protective gear.

She said that they always monitor supplies, and when they saw people begin stock-piling, they began an allocation process.

“We have supply we need and we are constantly, daily, evaluating that,” said Blanton. She said UK Healthcare has reached out to the Kentucky Department of Public Health about a contingency supply.

On campus, UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said the administrative workgroup charged with evaluating UK’s COVID-19 response is meeting to develop contingency plans for campus.

“This is a dynamic and fluid situation,” said Blanton. “Things are changing hourly and daily and we need to be monitoring it and we need to be communicating to the campus.”

Blanton said the workgroup is planning in areas like human resources, academic continuity and dining and housing.

No decisions have been made yet about enacting the contingency plans, said Blanton.

“We’re trying to ramp up communication around those commonsense health measures,” said Blanton.

Blanton said deep cleaning was something the workgroup was looking at and that over spring break there would be a “more extensive and deeper cleaning plan and evaluation.”

“We’re evaluating all those things and we’re always cleaning the campus,” said Blanton.

Yesterday, UK sent an email encouraging students to fill out a voluntary travel registry about spring break plans.

UK canceled university-sponsored travel to countries with CDC Level 3 warnings, but personal travel is still an option.

“Obviously that’s not something the university could or would prohibit or try to have any position, on other than to give people guidance,” said Blanton.

Blanton said that would help the university guide healthcare decisions upon return.

“We want to know that so we can get them guidance and get them with our healthcare folks so they can go through that protocol which would call for self-isolation,” said Blanton.