First Central Va. coronavirus case confirmed, ninth in the state
Longwood student and Alexandria resident have virus, local authorities say, which would be cases 10 and 11.
UPDATED: Cases 10 and 11 in Virginia were announced by Longwood University in Farmville and by the Alexandria Health Department late Wednesday.
The Virginia Department of Health has not yet made an announcement regarding the cases.
Wednesday at 10 p.m., Longwood University President Taylor Reveley IV posted a message on the university’s website that a student there has tested presumptively positive, which would be the state’s 10th case of COVID-19.
“We have just been informed that the results of that test have been returned and are sharing immediately that those results are a presumptive positive case,” Reveley wrote. “The student continues to self-quarantine pending further testing at the CDC to confirm the test. Based on their conversations with the student earlier this week about their brief time on campus following spring break, VDH continues to believe even with the presumptive positive test there remains a low generalized risk to our community. VDH has begun reaching out to those who may have been in close contact with the student to evaluate whether any further steps such as assessment, self-quarantine or testing may be necessary.”
All classes and public events at Longwood have been canceled through March 18, he added.
At 11:45 p.m., the Alexandria Health Department announced a presumptive positive case of a resident who attends Christ Church, Georgetown, where a Loudoun County patient and another person with the virus attend church. “The patient is currently doing well and is isolated at home,” according to the news release.
Central Virginia’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus COVID-19 was announced Wednesday morning by Gov. Ralph Northam and State Epidemiologist Lilian Peake during a press conference in Richmond. It is the ninth case in the state, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The first coronavirus case in Virginia was confirmed four days ago, on March 7.
According to a press release from the health department, the new patient is a teenager from Hanover County, in the Chickahominy Health District. They were traveling in a Level 3 country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest alert status, which has been declared for China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. The teen returned to the United States on March 4 and developed symptoms on March 8, the VDH said. The patient was already following guidelines to stay home for 14 days to monitor their health, and was tested for the coronavirus at the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services in Richmond. The patient is isolated at home and is currently doing well, according to the news release.
VDH received the test results this morning and is actively investigating, Peake said at the press conference.
“We should expect that there should be more,” Northam said of the novel coronavirus, which has now been confirmed in Arlington, Fairfax, Hanover, Loudoun and Spotsylvania counties, as well as the city of Virginia Beach. “Virginia’s response is unique to our commonwealth and our situation. As a doctor of over 30 years, I know that no two patients and no two cases are the same. And I know that you have to be flexible enough to adapt your approach as the situation warrants.”
Northam has not declared a state of emergency in Virginia, but said he is “prepared to do so if needed.”
On Wednesday, the University of Virginia canceled in-person instruction, moving all classes online, potentially for the rest of the spring 2020 school semester.
Peake said that there is currently a limited number of COVID-19 tests available from the CDC, which supplies VDH with test kits. Coronavirus tests are prioritized for people showing symptoms who have recently traveled to affected areas or who are in nursing homes. The number of tests in private health care systems is expected to increase, Peake said.
To address the limited number of test kits and preventative equipment such as masks and gloves, VDH Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said he has put in an order for $2.7 million worth of equipment from the national stockpile to plan for “worst-case scenarios.”
The World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic Wednesday. There are more than 127.000 novel coronavirus cases worldwide, with nearly 4,400 deaths reported, as of Thursday morning. More than 1,300 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across the United States, with at least 38 deaths reported.
Here are the coronavirus cases that have been reported so far in Virginia:
Case 1: A Marine assigned to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County who had recently returned home from international travel on “official business,” was reported Saturday.
Case 2: A Fairfax resident in their 80s who had traveled on a Nile River cruise was reported Sunday.
Case 3: An Arlington County resident in their 60s who had traveled internationally was reported Monday.
Case 4: The spouse of the Fairfax resident was reported positive for the disease on Monday.
Case 5: A Spotsylvania County resident in their 50s who had a fever, cough and shortness of breath was reported Monday.
Case 6: A Virginia Beach man in his 60s who had gone on a Nile River cruise where other cases had been reported was reported as positive on Tuesday.
Case 7: A Virginia Beach woman in her 50s and the spouse of the Virginia Beach man. She had also gone on the Nile River cruise and was announced positive on Tuesday.
Case 8: A Loudoun County resident in their 40s who is believed to have come in contact with another coronavirus patient at Christ Church, Georgetown in Washington, D.C., was reported as positive on Tuesday.
Case 9: A teenage patient in the Chickahominy Medical Health District in Hanover County is believed to have contracted the virus in international travel and was reported as positive on Wednesday.
Denise M. Toney, director of Virginia’s Department of General Services’ Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, which is managing the state’s testing for the virus, said the DCLS is monitoring the number of tests available. No patients have been turned away for testing, she said at the news conference. As of this afternoon, 69 people in Virginia have been tested; 60 tests were negative, according to the VDH.
“As of today, we have adequate testing supplies in house to be able to perform testing for 300 to 400 patients, depending on the number of specimens submitted per patient,” she said. “We’re anticipating two additional kits to arrive today, which will increase our capacity to 500 to 600 patients.”
Peake added that the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, which both have connected health systems, have expressed interest in developing coronavirus tests and that they’re pursuing the possibility of doing so.
Private hospitals, Northam said, are at the “front lines of response” and are responding to the limited capacity for testing.
“We are monitoring health-care system capacity in the event of any potential patient surge challenges, tracking equipment and other resource needs,” said Dr. Michael P. McDermott, president and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare in Fredericksburg.
Nursing homes are taking measures to prevent the disease from getting into the facilities, said April Payne, Virginia Health Care Association’s vice president of quality improvement and director of the Virginia Center for Assisted Living. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has advised nursing homes to take “dramatic action to limit nonessential visitors from their facilities,” Payne says, including restricting family visits and outside activities. In the Seattle suburbs, a nursing home has become an epicenter for the disease, with 19 deaths connected to the disease.
“We know that the frail and elderly are the most susceptible population to this virus,” Payne said. “Our priority right now is to prevent COVID-19 into entering our facilities.”
The Virginia Department of Medical Services is encouraging those without health care coverage to check their eligibility online and apply for coverage, said Karen Kimsey, DMAS’ director.
State Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said that all modes of transportation are being monitored, including “potential reductions in workforce, identifying tasks that can be done remotely, evaluating all essential travel and updating contingency and response plans,” she said.
Public schools are preparing for the possibility of an extended school closures, said James F. Lane, the state’s superintendent of public instruction.
“The Code of Virginia allows that if a student misses more than six days, they can make up the first five days and then only have to make up one day for every two days missed to reach the standard 990 hours,” he said.
Northam said he is taking personal measures to protect himself against the virus and has opted for elbow bumps instead of handshakes when greeting people.