First COVID-19 case confirmed in Harlan County

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley announced Harlan County’s first COVID-19 case on Wednesday (May 6) after the virus was first confirmed in the state approximately two months ago. Mosley said it was a day he prayed would not come, even though he felt the virus was “already here.”

Before diving into a slew of information for Harlan locals to be aware of, Mosley invited Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill to the podium for a word of prayer over the individual who contracted the virus.

“What he is going through is something all of us, in our hearts and minds and souls, have hoped and prayed we don’t have to experience with catching this virus and how its ravaged our country,” Mosley said.

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The judge-executive said Harlan’s first case is a 26-year-old male, who travels to work out of the state. He added the individual was also tested at a health department outside of Kentucky on Monday (May 4) before he was sent home to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“It just goes to prove, you hear a lot of these ages of confirmed cases from across the state and across the nation, targeting the elderly population. That serves as proof that younger people can catch the coronavirus,” he said.

“I know there’s been a lot of chatter about travel.  There was a travel ban in place where you couldn’t go to other states and people coming in from other states needed to self-quarantine for 14-days,” Mosley said. “He had the ability to travel out of state to work. He had to go out of state to provide for his family. He didn’t do anything wrong. Where we’re located on the Virginia-Tennessee border, a lot of our people have to work out of state, and this could’ve very easily happened to others just like it happened to him.”

Mosley added the decision to travel remains up to the individual themselves to decide if they really need to or not and he “respects people to make their own decisions,” but they should be mindful while doing so.

Bobbie Crider, the director of the Harlan County Health Department, said her team is now in the process of conducting contact tracing to see who the individual has been in touch with since he contracted COVID-19. If someone is included in the group, the person will be contacted by the health department for further instructions.

“During a contact investigation, the most important thing is to start with that person and to move out from there,” said Harlan County Health Department infection control nurse Elena Creech. “If there is any risk to anybody in Harlan County, we will be in contact with you. You will receive a call from the Harlan County Health Department.”

These individuals will be instructed on proper quarantine measures and monitored to safeguard their own health and health of the public.

“The health department is committed to protecting the health and wellness of its community,” Crider added. “The HCHD and health officials will be collaborating with both local and state partners to ensure the latest CDC and DPH guidelines are being followed to control the spread of disease throughout Harlan County.”

The disaster preparedness coordinator and environmentalist for the health department, Justin Curry, also took the podium to add a number of measures “bought time” for the county.

“When it comes to local businesses, anything from food service establishments to retail businesses, Harlan County’s been ahead of the game,” Curry said. “Before we even had executive orders at the state level, we already had a lot of those at the local level.”

According to the health department, roughly 80 percent of the population would develop only mild symptoms if they contract COVID-19. However, there are specific populations that are at a higher risk for the illness, which include adults over the age of 60 and people with serious health conditions, such as diabetes, lung and heart disease and more.

If you have general questions about COVID-19, call the virus hotline at 1-800-722-5725. You can also visit to stay updated on the latest COVID-19 information.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley announced on Facebook that Harlan County has received confirmation of its first positive COVID-19 test.

Mosley said he will host a press conference at 1 p.m. today to provide more information on the first positive case for the county.

“This confirmation is the first confirmed positive test of a Harlan County resident. This confirmation comes two months, to the date, of the state’s first confirmed case,” he said.”

“Please remember to take precautions. Social distancing, proper hand-washing and wearing a mask when in public will protect you and the ones you love. Stay safe and healthy!”

The Enterprise will give an update on Harlan County’s first confirmed positive when we receive more information.