(Richmond, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that a Fairfax Health District resident has tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). VDH and Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) are working together to identify any close contacts of this resident who would require testing or monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19. This is the second presumptive positive result with the other being in a Marine Base Quantico resident at Fort Belvoir Hospital who tested positive yesterday. Both cases were exposed through international travel.
“The Virginia Department of Health has been on high alert for possible cases of residents with COVID-19. Along with our hospitals and healthcare provider partners across the state, we are working hard to identify possible cases. We are working closely with the CDC and local health departments to investigate cases and prevent possible transmission of the virus,” said State Health Commissioner, M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “Our focus right now is to support the care of this individual, to complete additional investigations, and to protect the health of all Virginians.”
The individual is a resident of the City of Fairfax in their 80s who traveled on a similar Nile River cruise as other positive COVID-19 patients. The patient began to develop symptoms of respiratory illness on February 28. The individual was hospitalized on March 5 and remains in stable condition.
Test results for common respiratory infections, including the flu, were negative. After consultation with VDH, and based on the resident’s symptoms and known exposures, specimens were collected and sent to the Virginia state laboratory for testing for COVID-19 on March 6. The positive result returned Saturday is considered presumptive, pending confirmation by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The individual had limited contact with others while ill and risk to the general Fairfax community remains low.
“We are working closely with our city and state partners to respond to this case, to monitor the patient, and identify their close contacts,” said Fairfax Health Director Gloria Addo-Ayensu. “COVID-19 does not spread through brief, casual contact. Risk is increased among close contacts of infected persons.
“The news of a COVID-19 case in a city resident is not unexpected. We have been preparing for the possibility of COVID-19 in our region since this outbreak began. We are operationalizing our response plans and meeting with our partners to review and adapt their emergency preparedness and continuity of operations plans for COVID-19.”
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illnesses. 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 further lower the risk from spreading respiratory germs, 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.
This is a rapidly evolving situation, and information is being shared as it becomes available on the following websites: www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/, www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/novel-coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/.
While individuals are encouraged to contact their health care provider for questions about their health, general information about COVID-19 is available from the websites above and at 1-877-ASK-VDH3.
Fairfax County Health Department also has a public information line, 703-267-3511, for questions from its residents. The call center is open until 9 p.m. today.