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Central Shenandoah Health District investigating COVID-19 in a long-term care facility

The Florida Department of Health reports a sixth positive case of COVID-19 in Jackson County. (MGN)
The Florida Department of Health reports a sixth positive case of COVID-19 in Jackson County. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: Apr. 11, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT
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The Virginia Department of Health’s Central Shenandoah Health District is working with a long term care facility in Harrisonburg on a COVID-19 outbreak investigation.

Health district staff collected COVID-19 specimens from symptomatic residents at the facility. These specimens were sent to the state lab in Richmond and several were positive for COVID-19.

Health department staff are investigating potential sources of exposure and providing guidance and resources to the facility management to help in protecting both residents and staff.

“When COVID-19 occurs in a setting where there are many older people with underlying health conditions, we are concerned,” said Health Director Dr. Laura Kornegay. “We’ll be working very closely with the facility over the coming days to protect other residents and staff and to provide expert guidance on infection control.”

Governor Northam has banned social gatherings of more than 10 individuals. Everyone should stay at home except for essential reasons outlined in Executive Order 55. “We all have a responsibility and duty to take this seriously and do everything we can to protect ourselves and those around us,” said Dr. Kornegay.

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.

Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. 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:

· Stay home as much as possible. This is especially important if you are sick.

· If you must go out for essential trips like resupplying groceries, wear a cloth face covering.

· 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.

· If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor.

· Avoid close contact with crowds of any size, and avoid any crowd of more than 10.

For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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