West Piedmont Health District, Lexington confirm first coronavirus cases

Published: Mar. 20, 2020 at 7:58 PM EDT
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The VDH has listed the location of the Rockbridge area case confirmed earlier Friday as specifically being the Lexington area of the county.

UPDATE: VDH confirms first confirmed case of coronavirus in the West Piedmont Health District. The City of Martinsville, Franklin County, Henry County and Patrick County comprise this area.

The patient is a woman in her 60s who is isolated at her home. Her health is being monitored.

EARLIER: The Virginia Department of Health has confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the Rockbridge area. No specifics have been released about the patient, who is under quarantine.

Health officials are reviewing and checking people who may have had contact with the patient.

In a joint statement, Rockbridge County Administrator Spencer Suter, Lexington City Manager Jim Halasz and Buena Vista Interim City Manager Jay Scudder said, “We continue to work together as a region to take steps to mitigate the evolving public health threat. We urge everyone to follow guidance from the CDC and the VDH. This is a highly communicable disease, which can be transmitted from seemingly healthy individuals, who don’t even know they are infected. Please take this challenge very seriously. Everyone must remain vigilant in helping to protect ourselves, our families, friends and neighbors.”

The announcement Friday follows the Southside Health District confirming its first COVID-19 case in the district.

Southside includes Halifax County.

The resident of Mecklenburg is a man in his 50s who had contact with a person in another part of Virginia who was diagnosed with COVID-19. The man is isolated at home and monitoring his health, according to the health district.

Since the Virginia Department of Health updates its numbers at noon each day, these cases will be added to Saturday's update. As of Friday, the official statewide number is 114 confirmed cases.

“The Virginia Department of Health, hospitals, and health care providers continue to work together to identify COVID-19 cases in the community and across the Commonwealth,” said Southside Health District Director Dr. Scott Spillmann. “The health district is investigating this case and will identify and reach out to any close contacts of this resident who would require testing or monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19."

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus

Health officials say 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 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 spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Avoid contact with sick people.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor.

• Practice social distancing. Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and other individuals when out in public.

• Avoid crowds of more than ten people.