Cookout safety tips for holiday and summer picnics

One out of every six people get sick from a foodborne illness each year, and a few extra precautions can help keep your summer meals, cookouts and picnics illness-free this year.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department wants to increase awareness of food safety as people head into the summer picnic season. The following food safety guidelines can help you prevent the spread of food-borne illness from picnic meals shared with family and friends:

  • Keep hands clean. Wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items and after handling pets. Wash with hot soapy water and dry with paper towels.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces often. To sanitize surfaces, use a solution of regular household bleach and warm water. Add about 1 tablespoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water for the right concentration. Sanitize by first washing and rinsing the surface and then immerse, spray or swab with the bleach solution.
  • Separate – don’t cross-contaminate. Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards or wash, rinse and sanitize after contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never use the same plate for holding raw meat and transporting cooked meat.
  • Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before use. Thoroughly clean the outer surface before slicing and keep work surface and utensils clean and sanitized. Handle all cut melons carefully, including cantaloupe and watermelon. Promptly refrigerate sliced melon at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Follow the cooking guidelines listed below for proper meat preparation. Cook food to the proper internal temperature. Always check the internal temperature of cooked foods with a metal-stemmed thermometer and cook another 15 seconds after the thermometer indicates it has reached the proper temperature.

 Ground beef: 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds

Poultry and stuffed meats: 165 degrees F for 15 seconds

Pork products: 145 degrees F for 15 seconds

Other products: 145 degrees F for 15 seconds

Reheating leftovers: 165 degrees F for 15 seconds

  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Leftovers should be cooled and maintained within four hours at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or frozen at zero degrees or lower. When you are unsure how long leftover food has been out of proper serving temperature, a good rule of thumb to follow is “when in doubt, throw it out!”

2022 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero winners: Dr. Sharon Walsh and Lexington Battalion Chief Marc Bramlage

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Board of Health has selected Dr. Sharon Walsh and Lexington Battalion Chief Marc Bramlage as the 2022 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero award winners. The award is given annually to individuals who have demonstrated their dedication to improving the health of Lexington residents. The winners are announced each April as part of National Public Health Week (April 4-10, 2022).

Sharon Walsh

Dr. Sharon Walsh on August 7, 2019. Photo by Pete Comparoni | UKphoto

Sharon Walsh, Ph.D., is a professor of Behavioral Science, Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky and director of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Dr. Walsh is the principal investigator on the landmark $87 million HEALing Communities Study, the largest grant ever received by UK, to reduce opioid overdose deaths.

Through her leadership of almost 100 HCS interdisciplinary team members (25 faculty, 70 staff), HCS has established partnerships with 27 behavioral, healthcare and 8 criminal justice agencies in Fayette County over the past year to implement an integrated set of evidence-based practices to combat the opioid epidemic. Fourteen new staff have been embedded in Fayette County agencies to expand capacity for medication treatment for opioid use disorder (MOUD), link and retain clients on MOUD, and have provided overdose education and distributed more than 4,600 naloxone units.

“I’m honored to receive the award created in memory of Rice C. Leach, a true public health hero committed to improving the health and well-being of Lexingtonians and all Kentuckians,” Walsh said. “Kentucky was one of the first and is among the states hardest hit by the nation’s opioid crisis. Combating this epidemic must happen in the communities where affected people live. The HEALing Communities Study team, in partnership with many state and community partners, is implementing evidence-based practices and removing barriers to care and recovery to turn the tide on the impact of opioid use in the Commonwealth and become a national model for reducing opioid overdose deaths.”

Marc Bramlage

Battalion Chief Marc Bramlage with the Lexington Fire Department March 2022. Photo by Frank Handshoe

As Battalion Chief for Emergency Medical Services, Marc Bramlage has led his outstanding team through a variety of major and ongoing challenges, including fire and rescue, patient transport and overdose response, as well as many other problems first responders help solve every day.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Chief Bramlage has been in frequent and regular contact with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department to ensure the teams work together to maximize response efforts. Without the support of Chief Bramlage and his team, LFCHD would not have had the resources necessary to conduct the large number of COVID-19 vaccination clinics held over the past 15 months. Thanks to the direct and continuing support of Chief Marc Bramlage, Fayette County has consistently enjoyed one of the highest vaccination rates in the state of Kentucky.

“It is an honor to be awarded for doing a job you love,” Bramlage said. “This award is an indication of the strong bond the Lexington Fire Department made with the health department to help protect the people of this community.”

Both winners will be recognized at the April 11 Board of Health meeting, at 5:45 p.m. at 650 Newtown Pike. They will also be honored at 6 p.m. April 14 by Mayor Linda Gorton at a Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting.

Previously known as the Public Health Hero Award, the Board of Health renamed the award in 2016 in memory of the late Dr. Rice C. Leach, Lexington’s former Commissioner of Health who spent more than 50 years as a public health physician. Leach died April 1, 2016.

March 21, 2022: Contact Tracing Update for Lexington

(En español) As of March 21, 2022, Lexington-Fayette County Health Department (LFCHD) will no longer be contacting each individual person who receives a positive test result for the COVID-19 infection. 

This change in our practice was made after careful analysis of data and public health guidance. Public health experts agree that intensive universal case investigation and contact tracing are no longer optimal at this phase of the pandemic. LFCHD will focus on targeting investigations in high-risk settings, congregate settings and those serving vulnerable populations. 

As part of our adjustments, we are encouraging businesses to seek alternatives to requiring an isolation or quarantine order from LFCHD as part of an employee’s sick leave documentation regarding COVID-19. Adjustments may include accepting a copy of a positive test result for an employee and restricting those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms from working on site. LFCHD continues to encourage those who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to isolate and wear a mask.

This change in our practice will mean the following for you:

  • LFCHD will no longer issue isolation and quarantine orders or releases for return to work and or school. If you need proof of your positive test result as a requirement for your employer or school setting, you may obtain a copy of your test result from the provider that ordered the test or from the laboratory that performed the test. You may be asked to complete a medical record request in order to receive a copy of your results. 
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please follow the guidance provided by the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please notify your close contacts so they may begin to quarantine if indicated. Please refer to guidance provided by the CDC as to what is classified as a close contact. 
  • If you have provided an email address to the provider that ordered the COVID-19 test or to the laboratory itself, and that email address is provided to the health department, you will receive an email survey.
  • If you would like to complete a survey, please email Please provide a copy of your positive COVID-19 test result. If you obtained a positive COVID-19 test result from a home-performed test, LFCHD cannot accept that test result.
  • For questions or specific concerns about COVID-19, you may still call our COVID-19 call center at 859-899-2222 or visit our website for additional resources and guidance at
  • LFCHD continues to offer same-day appointments for free COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters (Moderna or Pfizer) in our Public Health Clinic on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Please call our Public Health Clinic at 859-288-2483 to schedule a same-day appointment.
  • If you are an employer experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak at your business and need assistance, please email us at

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March 8, 2022: 2nd anniversary of city’s 1st COVID-19 case

Today marks the second anniversary of Lexington’s first COVID-19 case.

Through the end of the first two years, the city has had 91,474 COVID-19 cases and 564 deaths:

·       March 8, 2020-March 7, 2021: 32,600 cases, 297 deaths

·       March 8, 2021-March 7, 2022: 58,874 cases, 267 deaths

The CDC has a new tool to measure community levels of COVID-19 (, and Fayette County is currently listed as high. This means the CDC recommends:

Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness.

If you are not yet vaccinated, or haven’t completed the series including the booster dose, we have the COVID-19 vaccines available by same-day appointment every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday by calling 859-288-2483.

Thank you, Lexington, for doing your part during this worldwide pandemic!

#LexingtonKy #TeamKentucky #TogetherKy #PublicHealth #GetVaxxedYall

Public Health Clinic: High call volume because of formula recall

Because of the national Similac formula recall (, our Public Health Clinic is receiving hundreds of calls per day. Please be patient as we continue to work to receive all the calls for our clinic services. Thank you in advance, Lexington!

The FDA is advising consumers not to use Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare powdered infant formulas if:

  • the first two digits of the code are 22 through 37; and
  • the code on the container contains K8, SH or Z2; and
  • the expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later.

Learn more, including how to check your lot number, at You can also call 1-800-986-8540 for more information. Lexington WIC participants can also call 859-288-2483.

Free radon test kits available for Fayette County residents

Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. If you live in Fayette County, you can get a FREE radon test kit through our Environmental Health division. Tests can only be picked up in person at the health department (650 Newtown Pike) 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. You must provide a Fayette County address to get a kit.

If you have questions, please call 859-231-9791. Learn more at

McCullough officially starts as Commissioner of Health

Lexington officially has a new Commissioner of Health.

Dr. Joel McCullough joined the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Feb. 14, with a Valentine’s Day full of meetings, greeting his team and planning how to continue the department’s mission of helping Lexington be well.

Dr. McCullough has extensive history in public health, including time as a medical epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and as medical director of environmental health for the Chicago Department of Public Health. He describes himself as “someone who focuses on the health and well-being of people and the communities that I serve.”

“Lexington will continue with strong public health leadership with Dr. McCullough joining us as the next Commissioner of Health,” said Michael Friesen, chair of the Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health. “We are excited about the next steps for public health in central Kentucky.”

Dr. McCullough earned an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a medical degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He has a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Washington.

Dr. McCullough replaces Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, who had served as commissioner of health since June 2016.

For additional information on the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, follow us on social media:, and

Public Health Clinic, Harm Reduction to have new hours

Starting Monday, Feb. 28, our Public Health Clinic will have new hours:

  • 8 a.m.-5 pm. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday
  • 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Wednesday
  • CLOSED Friday

Also, the Harm Reduction Program will have new hours starting Feb. 7:

  • 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday
  • 3-6:30 p.m. Wednesday
  • 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday

The program will no longer be open on Friday after Feb. 7.

Nominate someone for 2022 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero Award

It is time to nominate people for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero Award. The award, now in its 19th year, is for individuals who have demonstrated their dedication to improving the health of Lexington residents.

Criteria for the selection of the award include:

  • Exemplary leadership and diligence in promoting public health;
  • Remarkable contributions and support in fostering public health programs; and
  • Work or actions that have impacted the community’s health in a positive way.

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health renamed the award in 2016 in honor of the late Dr. Rice C. Leach “so future generations will know what a true public health super hero is.” Leach, who served as Lexington’s Commissioner of Health for five years, died in April 2016 following a battle with cancer.

Past winners include Pastor Richard Gaines and Consolidated Baptist Church (2021), Jon Parker (2020), Mark Johnson (2019), Dr. Svetla Slavova (2018), Kentucky State Sen. Reginald Thomas (2017), Dr. Leach (2016), Dr. Susan Pollack and Marian F. Guinn (2015), the Rev. Willis Polk and Baby Health Service (2014), Anita Courtney and Teens Against Tobacco Use (2013); Vickie Blevins-Booth and Jay McChord (2012); Jill Chenault-Wilson and Dr. Malkanthie McCormick (2011); Dr. Jay Perman (2010); the Lexington Lions Club (2009); Dr. David Stevens and the late Dr. Doane Fischer (2008); Dr. Ellen Hahn, Mary Alice Pratt and Therese Moseley (2007); Dr. Andrew Moore and Rosa Martin (2006); Jan Brucato and Dragana Zaimovic (2005); and Dr. John Michael Moore, Ellen Parks and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (2004). Dr. Robert Lam received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

If you know of someone to nominate for this award, please provide the following information:

  • Name, professional title and organization;
  • Phone number and e-mail address of nominee; and
  • Examples of why the person is worthy of the award. Descriptions should be no more than 200 words.
  • Your name and contact information.

How to Submit Someone

Nominations can be submitted here:

The deadline for submitting candidates is 3 p.m., Friday, Feb.25.

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health will make the final determination. The winner will receive special recognition from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. The awards are given each April as part of National Public Health Week.