EMPORIA, Va. -- 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."
Additionally, officials said the communications center would ask health screening questions.
"These questions may take a few extra minutes, but will not delay the response in emergency situations," officials said.
Earlier Saturday officials with the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) Crater Health District health officials said a man in Emporia and a woman in Greensville County tested positive for COVID-19.
Health department officials said the man, who is in his 30s, is self–isolating at home and the woman, who is in her 70s, is hospitalized.
Additionally, a Hopewell man who recently traveled to New York tested positive for COVID-19 Friday. Officials said he is "isolated at home and monitoring his health."
Also on Saturday, health department officials said a southside Virginia resident died from complications linked to COVID-19.
No additional details about the victim were released to "protect patient confidentiality," officials said.
“We are so sorry to hear of the loss of a Crater Health District resident. Our sincere condolences go out to their family and friends,” Crater Health District Director Alton Hart Jr. said. “It is especially important to remember elderly individuals and those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, including death. These at-risk individuals are strongly advised to take steps to minimize contact with others who are ill, practice social distancing, and stay at home as much as possible.”
The Crater Health District serves Dinwiddie, Emporia, Greensville, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.
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.
Officials said COVID-19 is mainly spread via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
"Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms," officials said. "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. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days after exposure to an infectious person."
VDH officials offered these tips to lower the risk from spreading respiratory germs like COVID-19:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- 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.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Practice social distancing. Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and other individuals when out in public.
- Avoid crowds of more than 10 people.
"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.
COVID-19 cases in Virginia climb to 739
Officials said 135 more people tested positive for COVID-19 out of the 1,829 people tested since Friday's update. That brings Virginia's total number of cases to 739.
Officials said 99 people remain hospitalized and 17 people have died as a result of COVID-19-related illnesses.
VDH data showed the coronavirus has most impacted people aged 50 to 69 since that group accounts for more than 36 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 16 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 382 cases versus the 349 cases reported in women.
Officials are investigating "distinct clusters" where there is "local transmission" of the virus in Virginia.
Those clusters include 156 cases in Fairfax County, 75 in Arlington County, 65 in James City County, 56 in Prince William County, 53 in Loudon County and 35 in Virginia Beach.