6 Confirmed Coronavirus Cases in Kentucky Linked to a Single St. Patrick's Day Party, Officials Say
Six people linked to a single St. Patrick’s Day party in Lexington, Kentucky, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), say local health officials.
The confirmed coronavirus cases are “a mix” of party guests and people who were exposed to attendees, Kevin Hall, a spokesperson for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, tells PEOPLE on Friday. None of the individuals who tested positive have been hospitalized.
The event happened around March 17 when the state of Kentucky recommended that all social gatherings with 10 or more people had to be canceled, according to Hall. Officials since have determined that more than 10 people attended the party.
It appears they thought by having nine people in an area at the time, they would meet that criteria,” Hall says. “But they had more than 10 people present overall at the party.”
He continues, “This is why we emphasize to people to stay at home. They thought they could get around this, but unfortunately it spread. People need to stay at home and follow the public health guidelines.”
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According to the health department, the confirmed cases range from those in their late teens and early 20s to people in their 40s.
Officials say the St. Patrick’s Day bash was not the same “coronavirus party” Governor Andy Beshear had mentioned during a press conference on Tuesday, in which he announced that one Kentucky resident tested positive for the highly contagious respiratory virus after attending a social gathering labeled as such.
“We still have folks that aren’t following the recommendations. And that ultimately hurts all of us,” Beshear said at his daily COVID-19 press briefing. “We have a positive case today from someone who attended a ‘coronavirus party.’”
“And this is the part where I, the person to tell everybody to be calm, have to remain calm myself,” the governor continued. “Because anyone who goes to something like this may think that they are indestructible. But it’s someone else’s loved one that they are going to hurt. We are battling for the health and even the lives of our parents and our grandparents.”
“Don’t be so callous as to intentionally go to something and expose yourself to something that can kill other people,” he urged. “We ought to be much better than that.”
Beshear continued to say that “we all owe each other a duty to protect each other, and we simply can’t have folks that are doing things like this.”
“So, this is one that I hope I never have to report on again,” he said, adding that hearing about the “coronavirus party” made him “mad.”
As of Friday afternoon, there are at least 302 confirmed cases of coronavirus and five deaths in Kentucky, according to Kentucky’s Department of Health and a New York Times database.
There are now at least 100,973 people confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, with 1,572 deaths from coronavirus-related illness, as of Friday evening. The U.S. now has the most confirmed cases in the world, ahead of China and Italy.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.