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Southside Virginia health department reports 15 COVID-19 cases, 1 death

New York reports first coronavirus-related death in state
Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 16:07:32-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Fifteen people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Sunday in southside Virginia communities, according to officials with the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) Crater Health District.

Health officials previously said Saturday that a southside Virginia resident died from complications linked to COVID-19, but released no additional details about the victim to "protect patient confidentiality."

Officials said there is one case in Greensville County, six cases in Prince George County, two cases in Emporia, four cases in Hopewell and two cases in Petersburg. That is an increase of seven cases from the previously reported eight cases in the disrtict.

"The residents in each locality had different exposure to COVID-19, either through contact with a positive patient or out-of-state travel," health department officials said.

Crater Health District Director Alton Hart Jr. said each of those infected "took the necessary steps to decrease the risk of exposure to those around them."

“As more tests are conducted, we expect to see more confirmed cases in the Crater Health District," Hart said. “Crater Health District is working closely with our government leaders, local emergency managers, hospitals, and Ft. Lee as we share a united front responding to the impacts of COVID-19 in our community.

The Crater Health District serves Dinwiddie, Emporia, Greensville, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

Emporia Police Department employee has COVID-19

Officials said a Emporia Police Department employee has tested positive for COVID-19.

"This employee is self-quarantined at home," Chief of Police Rick Pinksaw posted on the department's Facebook page Saturday night. "Please keep the employee in your prayers and continue to follow guidelines issued by Virginia Department of Health."

Earlier this week the department encouraged residents to be mindful of social distancing.

"During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Emporia Police Department will continue to respond to calls for service," officials said. "When responding, officers will respect and honor social distances."

COVID-19 cases in Virginia top 890

Health department officials said 151 more people tested positive for COVID-19 out of the 1,433 people tested since Saturday's update. That brings Virginia's total number of cases to 890. (This total does not include the latest count from the Crater Health District.)

Officials said 112 people remain hospitalized and 22 people have died as a result of COVID-19-related illnesses.

Officials are investigating "distinct clusters" where there is "local transmission" of the virus in Virginia.

Those clusters include 187 cases in Fairfax County, 84 in Arlington County, 72 in Prince William County, 70 in James City County, 61 in Loudon County 49 in Virginia Beach and 40 in Henrico County.

VDH data showed the coronavirus has most impacted people aged 50 to 69 since that group accounts for nearly 35 percent of cases.

"But we're also seeing cases in people in their 20s," Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday. "Ninety-three of the 604 cases are in the age range of 20 to 29 years."

In fact, Northam said that group accounts for 15 percent of cases in the state.

"There has been some talk, and I have seen activity around Virginia, that this only affects the elderly. Well, it doesn't. It affects all of us, "Northam said. "So take this seriously and please stay home."

Slightly more men have been infected by the virus at 464 cases versus the 417 cases reported in women.

COVID-19 Precautions

VDH Epidemiologist Senior E. Katrina Saphrey said people who are close contacts of someone with COVID-19 have a higher risk for infection.

"Others at higher risk for infection are those who live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19,” Saphrey said.

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.

"If you are 65 years or older, or if you have a serious chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, compromised immune system), you should seriously consider staying at home," officials warned.