UVA community member tests positive for COVID-19

Statue of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
Statue of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 16, 2020 at 9:44 AM EDT
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Health officials have confirmed the first positive case of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in the Charlottesville area and UVA officials have confirmed that the patient is a member of their community.

According to a release from the Thomas Jefferson Health District sent out Monday morning, a Charlottesville resident in their late 50s who had recently traveled tested positive for the virus with a test through a commercial lab.

“The situation with COVID-19 outbreak is rapidly changing, so it is not surprising that we are identifying a case in our area,” said Thomas Jefferson Health District Director Dr. Denise Bonds.

Public health workers will work to investigate all people who had close contact with the patient as the patient remains isolated. Contacts will be asked to stay home away from others for 14 days.

At this point, officials have not identified any locations where the patient traveled.

The University of Virginia confirmed on Monday morning that the patient is a member of their community, though the school did not identify if the person is a faculty member or a student.

The school says UVA health officials and administrators are working closely with the Virginia Department of Health, which is conducting a thorough investigation of potential exposures.

That case is in addition to 45 confirmed cases in Virginia as of Sunday,

The Virginia Department of Health updates its total number of cases once per day, around noon. On Sunday, the total rose to 45 cases, up from 41 cases on Saturday, up from 30 on Friday, 17 cases on Thursday and 9 cases on Wednesday.

The total reported by VDH includes both presumptive positive cases – COVID-19 tests that came back positive either at the Virginia state lab or commercial labs but haven't yet been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – and confirmed positive cases, which have been confirmed by the CDC.

Recent days have brought increased coronavirus testing capacity for Virginia, with the state lab in Richmond receiving more testing kits and many hospitals, including Sentara RMH, gaining access to testing through commercial labs. That means more reported cases were expected as more people gained the ability to be tested.

On Thursday, the first positive test was

for a Harrisonburg patient that had been hospitalized at Sentara RMH after developing pneumonia-like symptoms

Local states of emergency have been declared in Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, and most counties across Virginia.

The VDH provided the following breakdown of locations for all 41 cases reported as of Saturday: 10 in Fairfax County, 8 in James City County, 7 in Arlington County, 5 in Loudoun County, 3 in Virginia Beach, 2 in Prince William County, 1 in Spotsylvania County, 1 in Prince Edward County, 1 in Hanover County, 1 in Chesterfield County, 1 in Alexandria, and 1 in Harrisonburg.

On Saturday afternoon, the VDH confirmed the


On the global scale, you can find a map by Johns Hopkins University tracking worldwide confirmed numbers of cases and deaths


A few hours after the VDH update detailing 30 cases in Virginia on Friday, Gov. Northam

to prevent further spread of the virus.

What to know about COVID-19

Most people don't suffer much from COVID-19, but it can cause severe illness in the elderly and people with existing health problems.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness. Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms.

However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can cause death, particularly among those who are older or who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:

• 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 think you may have been exposed to coronavirus and have these flu-like symptoms (fever, shortness of breath or a cough), please call ahead before visiting a doctor’s office or emergency department. This will enable your care providers to determine the best way for you to receive care.

For the latest factual information on COVID-19, you're encouraged to check both the

and the