FRANKFORT -- A 10-year-old Kentucky child has been put on a ventilator while battling complications linked to the coronavirus, state officials said Monday.
Gov. Andy Beshear paused his daily briefing on the coronavirus outbreak for a moment of silence for the youngster. Officials believe it's the only case of a Kentucky child suffering from a new syndrome associated with COVID-19 that can affect children, the governor said.
"I don't want to be sensational about any of this," said Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky's public health commissioner. "I want to be just the facts and down the middle as much as I can. For kids who get this syndrome, it's serious. The young patient that we have in Kentucky is critically ill at this time."
Parents should take comfort that children generally do "extraordinarily well" with the coronavirus, Stack said. But a small number of children can get the syndrome in which their immune system becomes overactive, causing an inflammatory response, Stack said. The illness can manifest itself as a respiratory or gastrointestinal problem, he said.
"There's not much you can do to prevent this except to take all the steps we've told you about, which is stay healthy at home, minimize social contact, have increased social distancing, wear a mask ... when you're out in areas where you may be exposed to other people," Stack said.
Over the weekend, some Kentucky churches held in-person services after a federal judge lifted Kentucky's ban on those gatherings late last week. Beshear said the administration had hoped for the May 20 date to give churches more time to prepare for a safe re-opening.
"Simply opening a building and doing something the way we previously liked to isn't safe right now," he said. "Everybody should agree with that."
U.S. District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove ruled Friday that Beshear's mass gathering order violated the First Amendment rights of a Nicholasville church that challenged the ban. The judge said churches could hold in-person services as long as worshippers followed guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, even death.
Meanwhile, the governor reported seven virus-related deaths from the past two days, bringing the state's total death count to at least 311 since the pandemic began.
Beshear reported nearly 250 more coronavirus cases in Kentucky from the past two days, raising the statewide total to more than 6,670 cases. The governor noted that nearly half the cases involved people 50 and younger. More than 2,330 people in Kentucky have recovered from the virus, he said. But 220 of Kentucky's virus patients are in intensive care units, he said.
The Democratic governor also urged Kentuckians to turn to the state's COVID-19 website for information and to not be swayed by misinformation coming from some online sites.
"It's put out by some that don't believe the virus is real," he said. "But let's face it, a lot of what's on social media right now is created by other countries in a way to try to destabilize us."