Commonwealth of Virginia Reports First COVID-19 Death in the Peninsula Health District

March 14, 2020

(Richmond, Va.) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Peninsula Health District reported the death of a hospitalized patient who previously tested positive for COVID-19.  This event marks the first death in the Commonwealth of Virginia due to COVID-19.

The patient was a male in his 70s who acquired COVID-19 through an unknown source. The cause of death was respiratory failure as a result of COVID-19.

“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 M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “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.”

This case was recorded by VDH when it was first identified.

The Peninsula Health District has activated its incident management team and is deploying all necessary resources in order to contain this outbreak. Public Health officials are reaching out to all identified contacts of COVID-19 cases.

The 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.

To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, 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.

This is a rapidly changing situation, and information is being shared as it becomes available on the following websites: www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/ or www.cdc.gov/covid19.

Virginia Department of Health Confirms Fourth and Fifth “Presumptive Positive” Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Fairfax and in Spotsylvania County, Virginia

(Richmond, VA.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that two Virginia residents in two different parts of the state have tested “presumptive positive” for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). These cases mark the fourth and fifth presumptive positive test results in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

One case is a household contact of a case previously identified in Fairfax in the Northern Region of the state. The other case is a resident of Spotsylvania County in the Northwest Region of the state. The two cases are not related.

“The Virginia Department of Health, hospitals, and health care providers statewide continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth,” said State Health Commissioner, M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “Through a strategic, coordinated, statewide response, the Commonwealth is well-prepared to respond to positive COVID-19 cases as they occur.”

The fourth presumptive positive case is a City of Fairfax resident. This individual is the spouse and close contact of the patient who tested positive on March 7, and the exposure is not the result of community transmission.

The individual traveled on the same Nile River cruise as her husband. On March 5, when her husband was tested, she was asked to self-quarantine, stay home and avoid contact with others and has been compliant. When she developed minor respiratory illness symptoms, the Health Department determined that testing was warranted and specimens were sent to the Virginia state laboratory on March 8. The resident is currently doing well but was hospitalized while testing was completed. The positive result returned today is considered presumptive, pending confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We know the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) increases among close contacts of infected persons,” said Fairfax Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu. “Based on the results of our contact investigation to date, the individual had limited contact with others outside the home while ill so the risk to the general Fairfax community remains low.”

The fifth presumptive positive case is a resident of Spotsylvania County, and in their 50s. The individual developed fever, cough, shortness of breath, and subsequently sought medical attention. The case was brought to the attention of the Rappahannock Area Health District, and testing for the novel coronavirus was done by the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) in Richmond. The positive test result came back during the afternoon today. The positive test result is considered a presumptive positive, pending confirmatory testing by CDC. The patient is currently under medical care and stable according to the physician providing care.

“We are working closely with our health care partners and the state to monitor the patient and identify and work with their close contacts,” said Rappahannock Area Health Director Brooke Rossheim, MD, MPH.

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.

This is a rapidly changing situation, and information is being shared as it becomes available on the following websites: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/. Please consult www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus for the latest number of COVID-19 cases in Virginia.

Fairfax County Health Department has a public information line, 703-267-3511, for questions from its residents. The call center is open until 9 p.m. tomorrow.

The Virginia Department of Health has also activated a public information line, 877-ASK-VDH3, for questions from residents about the novel coronavirus situation.

Virginia Department of Health Confirms Third “Presumptive Positive” Case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in State

(Richmond, VA.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that an Arlington County resident has tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  VDH and the Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) 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 third presumptive positive result, with the other two being a Marine Base Quantico resident and Fairfax City resident.  All three cases were exposed through international travel.

“The Virginia Department of Health, hospitals, and healthcare providers across the state have been preparing for the possibility of residents with COVID-19.  We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health departments to identify possible cases and prevent the spread of the virus,” said State Health Commissioner, M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA.  “Our focus now is that the individual receive the care needed to recover, complete additional investigations, and protect the health of all Virginians.”

The individual is a resident of Arlington County in their 60s who developed fever, cough and shortness of breath after having returned from international travel.  The resident is receiving medical care and is currently recuperating.  The positive result returned Sunday evening is considered presumptive, pending confirmation by the CDC.

“We are working closely with our health care partners and the state to monitor the patient and identify and work with their close contacts,” said Arlington County Health Director Reuben K. Varghese, MD, MPH.  “Confirming a case of COVID-19 in an Arlington resident does not come as a surprise given international travel from an affected area.  We understand the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) increases among close contacts of infected persons.”  The individual had limited contact with others while ill and the risk to the general Arlington community remains low.

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.

This is a rapidly changing situation, and information is being shared as it becomes available on the following websites: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, www.vdh.virgina.gov/coronavirus/www.health.arlingtonva.us.

The Virginia Department of Health has also activated a public information line, 877-ASK-VDH3, for questions from residents about the novel coronavirus situation.

Virginia Department of Health Confirms Second “Presumptive Positive” Case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in State 

(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.

STATUS UPDATE ON TWO PRESUMPTIVE POSITIVE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS CASES IN VIRGINIA

(RICHMOND, VA.) –  Press conference with Virginia’s state and local public health leaders on the first presumptive positive case of a Marine Base Corps Quantico resident who is at Fort Belvoir and to announce a second presumptive positive case.  The second individual is a resident of the City of Fairfax in their 80s who traveled on a similar Nile River cruise as other positive coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. The patient began to develop symptoms of respiratory illness on February 28, was hospitalized on March 5, and remains in stable condition. Health officials will provide more information on these case investigations and what is being done to identify and monitor other close contacts and protect the health of Virginians.

WHO:            

State Health Commissioner, Dr. Norm Oliver, MD, MA

State Epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake, MD, MPH

Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, MD, MPH

Prince William Health District Director Dr. Alison Ansher, MD, MPH

Director of the Department of General Service’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS)
Dr. Denise Toney, PhD

City of Fairfax Mayor David Meyer

WHEN:         

Sunday, March 8, 2020

1 PM

WHERE:      

Stacy C. Sherwood Center, 3740 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22030

Today’s press conference will be televised on Channel 16 (on Cox 1016; Verizon and Comcast 16), streamed at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cableconsumer/channel-16/live-video-stream and on the Fairfax County Health Department Facebook page – facebook.com/fairfaxcountyhealth

For more information on the press conference, please contact John Silcox at: john.silcox@fairfaxcounty.gov.

First Virginia Case of COVID-19 Confirmed at Fort Belvoir

(RICHMOND, VA.) – A U.S. Marine at Fort Belvoir has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, Virginia health officials confirmed today.

Governor Northam and Cabinet officials have been briefed. Officials at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and the Virginia Department of Health are working cooperatively, according to longstanding public health protocols. The teams are in regular and close communication with federal, state, local, and private sector partners.

Public health officials caution that evidence has not been seen of COVID-19 spreading in Virginia and said the risk is low.

Public health officials remind people in Virginia and on military installations to take precautions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

VDH Office of Vital Records Appoints New Director and Modernizes Operations – Call Center, Application Processing, Website and Office Hours have been updated

(RICHMOND, VA.) – The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Vital Records has undertaken multiple initiatives to improve customer service.

“One of the ways we’re improving customer service is by modernizing the Office of Vital Records,” said Mona Bector, deputy commissioner for administration at the Virginia Department of Health.

Ms. Bector stated, “To adequately serve the needs of customers we have added capacity to our call center, provided online application status updates, and are in the process of introducing online application submissions. We are creating transparency and providing relevant information through an updated website.”

The VDH Office of Vital Records headquarters is located at 2001 Maywill Street in Henrico County, just outside of Richmond. In coordination with the Local Health Districts and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), this office issues birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates. The Office of Vital Records processes an estimated 250,000 records a year, and responds to thousands of requests for copies of records.

“We have completely revised the call center phone greetings to provide more information, our website address, and for the first time all greetings are also available in Spanish,” added Suresh Soundararajan, chief information officer at the Virginia Department of Health. “We now offer customers their call queue position every 60 seconds and the option to leave their contact information for a call back,” he said.

Customer service enhancements include:

  • A new application tracking system. When an application is submitted with an email, the system will generate an application tracking ID for each application and email that ID number to the customer, who will be able to call and get status updates or track the status of their application online. Shortly, customers will also be able to get updates by mobile text messages.
  • Online application submission will be introduced in March to expedite processing.
  • Updated website. The Office of Vital Records website, www.vdh.virginia.gov/vital-records, has been updated to highlight the most requested information, to add an online application status tracking button, and has a locator function to find the nearest place to get a copy of a vital record (Office of Vital Records headquarters, Local Health District office or DMV office).
  • Updated and modernized waiting area at the headquarters location. A greeter is available during busy periods to help direct walk-in customers to the applications counter and to the waiting area. Starting in March, the office will provide electronic check-in. Shortly, a children’s play area will be added to the waiting space to accommodate parents. Walk-in consumers can receive same-day service for uncomplicated requests.

Ms. Bector said the Office plans to add electronic payments soon. When that system is up and running, customers will be able to expedite online application processing with electronic payment.

In another change, Seth Austin has been appointed director of the Office of Vital Records, effective Feb. 25, 2020. Mr. Austin has been working as the office’s acting director since January. He joined VDH in 2016.

“I look forward to the opportunity to lead the office through this modernization effort which will bring a lot of value to our customers,” Mr. Austin said. “We are holding ourselves to a standard of interacting with our customers in a way that matches the best customer service experiences they have with private businesses.”

New Hours: Starting March 1, the Office of Vital Records will be open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday; from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.  (The office will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.)

The changes reflect consumer demands and wider availability of other locations to get copies of vital records.

Certified copies of vital records are required for many reasons, such as obtaining U.S. passports, making beneficiary insurance claims, or to get the new Real ID driver’s license, for example.

Recently, the Office of Vital Records warned consumers about using third-party services to obtain vital records. Some of those services charge consumers for copies of applications that are available online for free, and some consumers using third-party services have complained that they never received requested forms or records.

Health Officials Report Virginia’s First Pediatric Flu Death of the 2019–20 Season

February 11, 2020

(RICHMOND, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reports the state’s first influenza-associated pediatric death for the 2019-20 flu season. A teenager (13-17 years old) in Virginia’s Northern region has died from complications associated with influenza. To protect the family’s privacy, VDH will not provide any further information regarding this death.

“We offer our condolences and deepest sympathies to this child’s family,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A., “Sadly, this is a tragic reminder that flu can be a serious illness, and we encourage everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and others.”

Flu has been widespread in Virginia since December 2019. VDH has investigated a total of 61 flu outbreaks during the 2019-20 flu season through February 1, and received reports of 773 pneumonia and influenza-associated deaths. On average, three flu-related pediatric deaths are reported each year in Virginia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that influenza has resulted in 22-31 million illnesses, 210,000-370,000 hospitalizations and 12,000-30,000 deaths in the U.S. so far this flu season. Certain groups are at higher risk for serious illness from flu, including children younger than 5, pregnant women, people aged 65 and older, and those with suppressed immune systems or certain chronic medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease.

“Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu,” said Dr. Oliver. “Even at this time of year, if you haven’t had the flu shot, you should make an appointment and get it. There is still time to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season.”

Flu activity in Virginia typically peaks between December and February, but can remain elevated into the spring.

VDH recommends taking three actions to prevent the flu:

  1. get vaccinated every year;
  2. practice good public health with hand hygiene (washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow rather than your open hand), and staying home when you feel sick; and
  3. take antivirals as prescribed if you do become sick with the flu.

To locate a seasonal flu vaccine clinic near you, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov or contact your local health department. For more information on flu in Virginia, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/influenza-flu-in-virginia/.

VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH CLOSES AREA TO SHELLFISH HARVESTING

(RICHMOND, Va.)— The Virginia Department of Health announced today that shellfish-harvesting waters near west of Allen’s Island in the York River in Gloucester County are closed to the harvest of oysters and clams effective January 31, 2020.  This closure is the result of notification of reports of oyster-associated norovirus illness with an epidemiological link to shellfish harvested from this area. This closure is for 21 days.

Maps of the affected areas are located on the Division of Shellfish Sanitation’s home page at www.vdh.virginia.gov/Shellfish/.  The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish.

For more information on shellfish closures, see the frequently asked questions on shellfish condemnations at www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/faq/.

UPDATE: Virginia Department of Health Announces Two Patients Under Investigation Test Negative for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

(Richmond, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health has received test results for the two Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Central Region of Virginia. The results from testing performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were negative, indicating that the two individuals do not have the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Test results for a Patient Under Investigation in the Northern Region of Virginia are expected to be received later this week. At this time, Virginia continues to have no confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19.

VDH will continue to work with the CDC and local partners to detect and respond to any possible cases that might occur in Virginia. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/surveillance-and-investigation/novel-coronavirus/.