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Online tool lets you track COVID-19 cases in your neighborhood

Graphic courtesy: Virginia Department of Health
Graphic courtesy: Virginia Department of Health(WHSV)
Published: May. 14, 2020 at 2:13 PM EDT
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Virginians can now access a tool from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to see the number of COVID-19 cases in your neighborhood.

, in one of Governor Ralph Northam's thrice-weekly COVID-19 briefings, Dr. Norm Oliver, Virginia's state health commissioner, said the Virginia Department of Health had approved the release of Virginia's daily COVID-19 test and case numbers to be broken down not just by health district and locality, but down to a zip code level.

He said transforming the VDH data system would take some time, but that the system would be live in the coming days.

As of this week in May, the system was live.

The tracking tool is not on the main

, but if you go to that site and then click the ‘COVID-19 Data Insights’ tab, you can find it.

You can search your zip code to find more data in the tool at the bottom of this article or

. For instance, as of May 14, there were 364 confirmed cases in the 22802 zip code, 431 in the 22801 zip code, 28 in the 24401 zip code, 29 in the 22980 zip code, and 47 in the 22482 zip code.

The health department warns residents that the data is incomplete because the agency does not have zip code information on about 500 cases in the state. While they have county or city data on every case and lab report, they do not have ZIP code data on every record.

ZIP codes also often span county and city lines, just like mailing addresses may show a city you don't actually live in.

If case counts are under four, the department suppresses the exact information to provide privacy to the small number of patients with confirmed cases within that ZIP code.

They also say some ZIP codes may seem surprisingly populous because they serve as the mailing address for a large group of people, like college campus mailboxes and P.O. boxes.

For a breakdown of our latest local case, hospitalization, and death numbers, click

.

If you are showing symptoms and feel you need to be tested for COVID-19, you can find a list of testing sites in your area

.

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.

It spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract the virus by touching those objects or surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

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.

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.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent or antiviral medication to treat COVID-19. The best way to avoid illness is preventing exposure, which is why governments around the world have implemented Stay at Home orders.

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

and the

.

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