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Central Shenandoah Health District confirms 1st death due to COVID-19

Officials say the meeting will be about COVID-19 and planning short and long-term responses. (MGN)
Officials say the meeting will be about COVID-19 and planning short and long-term responses. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: Apr. 10, 2020 at 5:34 PM EDT
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The Central Shenandoah Health District has confirmed its first fatality due to COVID-19.

According to a statement sent by the district on Friday afternoon, the first resident of the district has died due to the novel coronavirus.

“We regret to announce that we have experienced our first local COVID-19-related fatality,” said Laura Kornegay, M.D., director of the Central Shenandoah Health District. “On behalf of all of us at VDH, I extend sincere condolences to this person’s family.”

Dr. Kornegay did not identify exactly where the patient was located or any details about the patient, like age. Robert Parker, with the Virginia Department of Health told WHSV that the only information that can be provided, to protect patient privacy, is the health district in which the person lived.

The Central Shenandoah Health District covers Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge and Rockingham counties, as well as the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro.

“Unfortunately, we’ve learned that those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of serious complications from COVID-19,” said Dr. Kornegay. “Everyone, especially 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 death in our area is in addition to

, most of which have been in northern, central, or eastern Virginia, in areas of outbreaks.

But the Shenandoah Valley has recently seen a spike in positive test results,

, where, combined there have been around 90 cases confirmed.

Statewide, Virginia has 4,509 cases confirmed, with 772 hospitalizations.

The hospitalization numbers are cumulative — they represent the total number of people hospitalized due to the disease throughout the outbreak and not the total number currently in the hospital.

In our area, as of April 10, there were at least 15 confirmed cases in Augusta County, 57 cases in Harrisonburg, 31 cases in Rockingham County, 5 cases in Page County, 15 cases in Shenandoah County, 1 case in Staunton, 5 cases in Waynesboro, 62 cases in Frederick County, 16 cases in Winchester, and 3 cases in Rockbridge County, along with 3 in Lexington.

Just to the east, there have been at least 43 cases in Albemarle County, 28 in Charlottesville, 4 in Greene County, and 4 in Nelson County.

Wondering about the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Virginia? Recovery information is not required to be sent to the Department of Health, so there is no accurate way to track that data.

The

is updating with the latest statewide numbers at 9 a.m. each day.

The numbers that appear on that list are based on the cases that had been submitted to the department by 5 p.m. the previous day, so there is always some lag between when local health districts announce positive test results and when the department's numbers reflect those new results.

General info on COVID-19
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 generally 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. At most testing sites, a high fever is required before testing will even be considered.

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

and the

.

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