Virginia reports first coronavirus death
Update: Virginia now has 45 known COVID-19 cases.
UPDATE, MARCH 15: As of Sunday night, Virginia has 45 known cases of COVID-19, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said for the first time Sunday that he is concerned about community spread of the virus in the Peninsula Health District, where one person has died. For more updated information, read our Sunday story.
Virginia has reported its first death from the novel coronavirus — a hospitalized Peninsula man in his 70s who contracted COVID-19 from an unknown source. The cause of death was respiratory failure caused by COVID-19.
As of Saturday afternoon, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 41 cases of coronavirus in the commonwealth. That was up from 30 cases reported on Friday. The new cases included a Chesterfield County man in his 60s thought to have become infected during international travel and a William & Mary staff member.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said that he and first lady Pamela Northam “were deeply saddened to learn that a Virginian has died from COVID-19, and we grieve for everyone this virus has touched around the world.”
“On behalf of the entire commonwealth, we express our deepest sympathy for the family and loved ones of the patient who died, as well as the families of everyone who has been affected by this outbreak,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver. “The health of our residents and the community is our top priority, and we will continue working together to care for the patients, protect the safety of health care workers, and protect the people in our commonwealth.”
Virginia’s Peninsula Health District “has been working very closely to identify people who have been in potential contact with people known to have tested positive for coronavirus. They are interviewing affected people and giving instructions on how to protect themselves and others,” according to a VDH news release issued Saturday.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, urged Virginians to”take this seriously. Take basic health precautions, avoid large gatherings, telework if possible, and stay home if you are sick. That will stop the virus from spreading.”
President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency Friday, a day after Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia, closing all K-12 schools in the state for the next two weeks.
The World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic Wednesday. There are nearly 160,000 novel coronavirus cases worldwide, with more than 5,800 deaths reported, as of Saturday afternoon. Nearly 2,700 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across the United States, with more than 50 deaths reported.