CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WHSV) — The first death due to COVID-19 has been reported in the Thomas Jefferson Health District.
The health district announced on Tuesday that a woman in her 80s had died of coronavirus-related causes.
To protect the patient's confidentiality, they are not releasing any further information about the patient, including exactly where in the district she was located.
The district has confirmed cases in Albemarle County, Charlottesville, Fluvanna County, Greene County, Louisa County, and Nelson County so far.
“We are so sorry to hear of this loss of one of our community members. Our hearts go out to her family and friends,” said TJHD Health Director Dr. Denise Bonds. “It is important that we all take this illness seriously and follow precautions to protect ourselves and those around us from illness. This is especially important for those at higher risk, like older adults and people with serious underlying health conditions.”
If you have questions about the effect of the coronavirus in that district, you can call the TJHD COVID-19 hotline at 434-972-6261 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The most recently confirmed fatality was not included in the statewide total reported by the Virginia Department of Health on Tuesday morning.
Virginia case totals as of March 31
As of March 31, the Virginia Department of Health had confirmed 1,250 cases of COVID-19 across the commonwealth. Virginia crossed the 1,000-case threshold on Monday, just a day after the numbers were at 890 on Sunday.
Those positive test results are out of 13,401 people that have been tested in Virginia.
At this point, 165 Virginians have been hospitalized due to the coronavirus, and 27 have died of causes related to the disease.
The Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 website 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.
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 general questions about COVID-19 in the Central Shenandoah Health District, community members may call the CSHD COVID-19 Hotline at 855.949.8378. For the latest on COVID-19, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.