Differences in Ky., Tenn. COVID-19 responses and testing

Bay County health officials say six people have been tested for the coronavirus locally. Of...
Bay County health officials say six people have been tested for the coronavirus locally. Of those six tested, four results have come back negative; two test results are still pending. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: Mar. 21, 2020 at 4:01 PM EDT
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The differences in how Kentucky and Tennessee are handling the coronavirus crisis is making the rounds on social media this weekend.

While the two states started the month with no cases of the virus, Tennessee’s number quickly rose the past week to 505 confirmed cases on Sunday. Kentucky’s official number from Gov. Andy Beshear was 103 as of 5 p.m. Sunday, March 22.

Davidson County home of Nashville had 167 of Tennessee’s cases. The cases in Tennessee’s capital was considerably more than the entire state of Kentucky.

Population estimates for 2019 from the U.S. Census Bureau show Kentucky with 4.5 million residents compared to 6.8 million in Tennessee. According to statistics available Sunday, Tennessee has so far tested 55 per 100,000 of its residents while Kentucky has tested 35 per 100,000 residents.

On March 6 when Kentucky announced its first confirmed case of coronavirus, the state’s governor issued a state of emergency. On March 16, Gov. Beshear announced that all bars and restaurants would close to dining.

While Tennessee saw its first confirmed case on March 5, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee didn’t issue a state of emergency until March 12 after the number of cases reached 18.

As the number of cases increased in Nashville, its mayor closed bars across hard-hit Davidson County and imposed limitations on restaurants on March 16.

Other Tennessee counties have also made similar moves because no statewide order was put in place.

An analysis of the cases in Kentucky and Tennessee also shows a significant difference in the ages of those with confirmed cases. In Tennessee, numbers skew toward younger patients, especially those in their 20s. In Kentucky, the age group with the most confirmed cases as of March 20 where those in their 60s.