2 more coronavirus deaths reported in Virginia, raising total to 15

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(WDBJ/WHSV) — As of the afternoon of March 26, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Virginia has risen to 15.

When the Virginia Department of Health website was updated with daily totals as of noon, there were 13 deaths — but as the day went on, two more were reported.

A 4th resident of the Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Henrico, identified as a man in his 70s, passed away on Thursday.

A total of 14 residents and four workers have tested positive at the long-term rehab facility over the past 12 days, while another 16 residents’ symptoms are being monitored.

Also on Thursday, the Loudoun County Health Department in northern Virginia reported its first death of a patient who had been in a hospital and tested positive for the virus. The patient was a woman in her 70s.

The cause of death was respiratory failure as a result of COVID-19.

The two new deaths have not yet been added to the state number, which is updated at noon each day based on cases submitted to the state by 5 p.m. the previous day.

With the Loudoun and Henrico deaths, there are 15 recorded coronavirus-related deaths in the commonwealth.

There have been 460 total positive or presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in Virginia, with 6,189 tests administered. Of those cases, 65 people have been hospitalized.

The health department map has started breaking down cases by not only region, but age groups and sex. For instance, there are only four confirmed cases in children up to nine years old, but 84 each in people in their 50s and 60s.

211 of the patients are female, 242 male and seven not reported, according to state numbers.

Governor Ralph Northam will hold another briefing Friday afternoon to update the commonwealth on the coronavirus outbreak. He is holding briefings at 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, unless new developments require more at other times.

You can watch them live on WHSV on your TV or through WHSV's livestream at whsv.com/livestream or on the WHSV News app. That livestream can also be watched through our Roku and Amazon Fire apps.

Virginia remains under a state of emergency, and on Monday, Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order 53, which ordered all public K-12 schools to remain closed through the end of the school year and required many businesses classified as "non-essential" to close.

What you should know about preventing the coronavirus for yourself

Flattening the Curve

All of the cancellations, postponements, and closures, locally and nationwide, are happening in hopes of “flattening the curve” of the virus.

While letting the virus spread rapidly could shorten the duration of the pandemic, it could put a lot of strain on hospitals, putting them over capacity. The goal is to keep the apex curve below hospital capacity.

How can we prevent the spread?

People are rushing to stores to buy cleaning supplies or other items in the event of a quarantine.

To help your shopping, the Environmental Protection Agency has expanded its list of disinfectants that have qualified for use against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The list contains nearly 200 additional products, including 40 new products that went through the agency’s expedited review process.

But in the end, hand washing and social distancing is your best bet!

Who gets tested for the virus?

Currently, there are two main reasons someone would be tested for the coronavirus: having symptoms or exposure to an infected person. In our area, requirements for testing include both symptoms and either travel to an affected area or exposure to someone with a confirmed case.

The main symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. These look a lot like the flu and the common cold, so it takes a physician to determine if testing for the virus is necessary.

How does the coronavirus test work?

For a patient, the process of being tested for the virus is easy and can potentially be done almost anywhere. It typically involves taking a swab from deep in a patient’s nasal cavity to collect cells from the back of the nose.

The sample is then sent to a lab, where it will be tested to determine if the patient’s cells are infected with the virus. The same process is used to collect a sample from a patient who is tested for flu.

What to know about preventing the virus

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. 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.

For the latest factual information on COVID-19, you're encouraged to check both the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC.