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Harlan positives rise to four COVID-19 cases

Harlan County officials received confirmation of two additional positive COVID-19 cases on Saturday and one additional case on Monday, bringing the county’s total to four confirmed cases. The three new positives include a 74-year-old female and a 55-year-old, both locals who live together but were tested out of the county, and a 20-year-old male, who resides and was tested in Harlan.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley held a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the first two new positives, where he said the additional positives are “to be expected due to the increased testing that has been occurring for the last month.”

Harlan County Health Department officials said they are working with other local and state departments to track individuals who have had close contact with the new cases and are at risk for infection. These individuals will be contacted by the Health Department with instructions on proper quarantine measures and monitored to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The Health Department is committed to protecting the health and wellness of its community,” said Bobbie Crider, director of the Harlan County Health Department.

Mosley said there are several medical providers, like Harlan ARH and the Cloverfork Clinic, that are conducting antibody tests.

“Antibody testing determines if you contracted COVID-19. It’s possible you could have had it and thought you had it, but didn’t seek medical treatment. It is possible that you had it and did not know you had it,” Mosley said. “This type of test requires a doctor’s order and is different than the regular COVID-19 swab testing.”

Since antibody testing first began in Harlan County, Mosley said there has been seven positive antibody tests, “which proves COVID-19 has been here as health professionals, government officials and citizens thought.”

When an individual has an antibody test, there are four possible outcomes:

  1. Both IgM and IgG are negative: This means the patient has never been infected with COVID-19 or is still in the incubation period.
  2. IgM is positive and IgG is negative: This means the patient is having an early phase active COVID-19 infection.
  3. IgM is negative and IgG is positive: This means the patient has recently been infected with COVID-19 and now has protection against it.
  4. Both IgM and IgG are positive: This means the patient has an active COVID-19 infection and is still fighting the infection. Health care practitioners must follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in the event both are positive.

Mosley said doctors may issue an order for the antibody test if an individual had symptoms associated with COVID-19 in the past, before social distancing and other guidelines were established. He added an individual will most likely still have a swab test done if the antibody test comes back positive, suggesting the patient is actively fighting off the virus.

“Continue to practice healthy habits to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Mosley said. “Join me in praying for these two individuals who have tested positive.”

As of 6 p.m. on Monday, 952 total tests have been conducted in Harlan County, of which, 924 were residents and 917 were negative.

There have also been a total of 18 tests conducted on individuals from other counties and 10 conducted on people from other states, with 31 tests currently pending.

Mosley said this does not include tests that were negative on Harlan County locals who were tested out of the county or out of the state. He added he personally knows people who were tested in Lexington, Pikeville and other areas where their test was negative, but the number could not be recorded as a Harlan County test.

If you have general questions about COVID-19, call the virus hotline at 1-800-722-5725. Visit kycovid19.ky.gov to stay informed on the latest updates in the state.

A video of the press conference is also available on the Harlan Enterprise website and Facebook page.