Virginia Department of Health Launches Firearm Injuries in Virginia: Emergency Department Visits Dashboard

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a new data dashboard on firearm injuries in Virginia showing the number and rate of emergency department (ED) visits from 2016 to 2022. The dashboard shows firearm injury data by year, health district, age group, sex, and race/ethnicity across Virginia.

The dashboard is a result of the Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms (FASTER) funding awarded to VDH by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  VDH is one of 10 recipients funded for three years with the goal to improve public health surveillance of firearm injuries using near-real time ED data.

“The misuse and mishandling of firearms constitute a significant cause of injury in Virginia,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “This data set, obtained from emergency department records, will assist in the assessment of proximate causes of firearm-related injury, with an eye toward prevention of future injuries.”

The dashboard findings show:

  • The number of ED visits for firearm injury increased 72% from 2018 (1,635 visits per year) to 2021 (2,815 visits per year).
  • From January 2016 through May 2022, the majority of firearm injury ED visits in Virginia (86%) were among males.
  • Among racial groups, most ED visits for firearm injury occurred among Black patients. In 2021, 65% of ED visits for firearm injury were among Black patients, compared to 22% among White patients.
  • Young adults bear the highest burden of ED visits for firearm injury with nearly one-third (31%) occurring among adults aged 18-24 years in 2021.

VDH worked with an advisory group of partners, including hospitals, education partners, law enforcement, state agencies and community organizations, to understand data needs and gather feedback about the firearm injury data dashboard.  Hospital and freestanding EDs report data to VDH, a partnership that is key for timely tracking of community health impacts.

This data is an example of syndromic surveillance, a strategy used by public health to detect emerging health issues and monitor community health in near-real time. Learn more about syndromic surveillance at:

In the next year, VDH hopes to expand the firearm injury dashboard to include data on firearm injury hospitalizations and deaths. While intent of injury (assault, intentional self-harm, unintentional) is not available through the ED data at this time, it will be available for hospitalization and death

Virginia Reports Additional Presumed Cases of Monkeypox 

(Richmond, VA) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced five additional presumed monkeypox cases in Virginia residents, bringing the total number of monkeypox cases reported in Virginia to eight since May 2022. Testing was conducted at the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services.

Multiple countries, including the United States, are currently experiencing a monkeypox outbreak. To date, most, but not all, cases have occurred in persons who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men (MSM). Few hospitalizations and one death have been reported globally in this outbreak thus far. As of June 28, CDC had reported 4,769 cases of monkeypox identified in 49 countries; 306 cases were reported in the United States.

The new cases are adult male residents of the northern (3), eastern (1) and southwestern (1) regions of Virginia who were exposed to other people with monkeypox. The Virginia patients are currently isolating.  To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided. The health department is identifying and monitoring the patients’ close contacts.

Monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness, characterized by a specific type of rash. Rash lesions can begin on the genitals, perianal region, or oral cavity and might be the first or only sign of illness. Co-infection with sexually transmitted infections have been reported. Some patients also have fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and/or swelling of the lymph nodes before developing a rash. Symptoms generally appear six to 14 days after exposure and, for most people, clear up within two to four weeks.  Person-to-person spread occurs with close contact or with direct contact with body fluids or contact with contaminated materials such as clothing or linens.

Although there is no approved treatment for monkeypox in the U.S., some treatment options may be beneficial. As with many viral illnesses, treatment mainly involves supportive care and relief of symptoms. For patients who have severe illness or are at high risk of developing severe illness, treatments can be accessed through the federal government with VDH coordination. Two vaccines are also available through the federal government as postexposure prophylaxis for people who had close contact with a person with monkeypox and are at highest risk of exposure.

If you have symptoms consistent with monkeypox, seek medical care from your healthcare provider immediately, especially if you are in one of the following groups:

  • Those who have had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with monkeypox
  • Those who have had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, this includes men who have sex with men
  • Those who traveled to places or attended events where monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the month before symptoms appeared
  • Those who have had contact with household items, such as towels, bedding or clothing, used by a person with suspected or known orthopox or monkeypox virus infection
  • Those who have had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet from Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)

If you need to seek care, call your healthcare provider first. Let them know you are concerned about possible monkeypox infection so they can take precautions to ensure that others are not exposed.  Healthcare providers are reminded to report any suspected cases of monkeypox to their local health department as soon as possible and implement appropriate infection prevention precautions.

The federal government is expanding monkeypox vaccination access for individuals at risk and working to make testing more convenient for healthcare providers and patients across the country. VDH is actively working with our federal partners to make these services more accessible for Virginians.

For more information, visit the VDH websiteCDC website, and the World Health Organization website.

It’s Tick Season! Tips on Preventing Tick Bites

tick warning signTicks & Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is the most common disease caused by ticks in Virginia and the United States. For the last 10 years, Virginia has reported over 1,000 cases each year. The CDC estimated that the actual number may be 10 times greater. The number of cases has risen recently, with 2017 being the highest year on record, with 1,652 cases reported. 

Lyme disease is usually transmitted by the tiny, black-colored nymph stage Blacklegged Ticks. They measure less than 1/16 of an inch in length. Ticks are mostly found on the ground in wooded areas that have dense leaf litter. Pets may also bring ticks into the home.


Due to this tick’s small size and painless bite, people are often unaware they were bitten unless they see the tick attached to their skin. The first symptom of Lyme disease includes a rash that may appear as a bullseye. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes


To prevent ticks, use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents on your shoes, socks, and lower legs containing:

  • DEET (20%-50% concentration),
  • Picaridin,
  • IR3535,
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE),
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or
  • 2-undecanone

Please follow the label when using any repellent. These repellents are also useful against other ticks and mosquitoes.  

Pants, shoes, and socks can also be treated with Permethrin (an insecticide safe for use on clothing worn by people). Carefully follow label instructions on Permethrin when treating clothing. Permethrin should not be directly applied to the skin. Anything treated with it should be completely dry before use. It is advised to tuck your treated pants into your treated socks.

After you return indoors, check your clothing and do a full body check for ticks. Examine gear and pets for ticks and shower within 2 hours of being outdoors. This helps wash off unattached ticks and will help you do a full body check.

Infant Formula Shortage Information


Fact Sheet: Helping Families Find Formula During the Infant Formula Shortage (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) 
This fact sheet includes information regarding:

  • Manufacturer Hotlines
  • Community Resources
  • WIC -Eligible Families
  • General Guidance

Infant Formula Shortages: Tips on what to do when you can’t find formula at the store

Visit from the American Academy of Pediatrics for more information regarding healthy children

Alternatives to Formula:


Other Resources:

International Men’s Health Week is June 13 – 18, 2022

Men's Health WeekThis week, we recognize the importance of the health and wellness of men and boys. It is celebrated annually on the week leading up to Father’s Day. International Men’s Health Week is a reminder to reflect on the benefits of prioritizing your health and the health of men in your life.

Our daily lives can get busy, but it’s very important to find the time to take care of yourself. So use International Men’s Health Week to consider wellness a priority, no matter how busy you are.

Here are several things to think about during the week. 

  • Schedule appointments to see your doctors. Annual checkups and dental and optometrist appointments are just the tips of the iceberg. Depending on your age, consider getting checked for diseases like prostate cancer, HIV, etc.
  • Find the time to stay active. Exercise can significantly reduce your risk of developing diseases. Activity can happen outside, at the gym, or in the comfort of your home. Find an exercise routine based on your fitness level. If you are unsure about your fitness level, consult your healthcare provider. Then, depending on the activity, encourage your family and friends to join you!
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Nutritious meals are vital for your health. Fruits and vegetables can contribute to higher energy levels. If you don’t know what to eat, consider setting up a meal plan you can follow.
  • Focus on mental health. Your mental state can be just as important as your physical state. Having a self-care routine can keep you at ease. In addition, activities like meditation, therapy, and time away from stressors can improve your health. And all it takes is just a few minutes.

Use this week to think about the steps you can take to improve or maintain a healthy lifestyle. International Men’s Health Week isn’t just for men – we want the women in their lives to learn more too!

Learn more about Men’s Health: 

Virginia Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program Granted Extensions by USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Media Contact:  Brookie Crawford,

Virginia Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program Granted Extensions by USDA Food and Nutrition Service

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced the release of an extension to several nationwide waivers to help providers in the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to continue to meet the nutritional needs of child and adult participants during the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.

CACFP is a federal program that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers.

The extension now allows these waivers to remain in effect through June 30, 2023.

The following waiver requests provide the following information:

  • This flexibility applies to all CACFP entities impacted by COVID-related supply chain disruptions and are unable to provide a complete, reimbursable meal.
  • It is expected that CACFP entities document any changes to their menus caused by COVID -related supply chain disruptions issue(s); i.e. delivery delays, product unavailability, etc. State agencies must also document instances where flexibilities are provided; as appropriate.
  • States should continue to encourage their CACFP entities to report any impacts to services associated with COVID-related supply chain disruptions and forward to their MARO state desk contact.

The waivers include:

  • Non-Congregate Meal Service [42 U.S.C 1753(b)(1)(A) and 7 CFR 226.19(b)(6)(iii)] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators to provide non-congregate meals.
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick-Up [7 CFR 226.2] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators providing non-congregate meals during COVID-19 to distribute meals to parents or guardians to take home to their children.
  • Meal Service Times [7 CFR 226.20(k)] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators to serve meals outside of standard meal times.
  • State Agency Onsite Monitoring Visits [7 CFR 226.6(b)(1) and 226.6(m)(6)] – this waiver waives the requirement for state agencies to conduct onsite visits and monitoring of CACFP programs, but program operations should continue to be monitored offsite.
  • Sponsoring Organization Onsite Monitoring Visits [7 CFR 226.16(d)(4)(iii)] – this waiver waives the requirement for sponsoring organizations to conduct onsite visits and monitoring of CACFP programs, but program operations should continue to be monitored offsite.

For more information about the CACFP program, please call the help desk at (877) 618-7282 or email the Division of Community Nutrition at

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Governor Glenn Youngkin Encourages Virginians to Prepare Now for the 2022 Hurricane Season

~ Hurricane season begins June 1~

RICHMOND,VA — Governor Glenn Youngkin is urging Virginians to prepare now for this year’s hurricane season, which began today and lasts through November 30. Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting another above-average hurricane season this year with a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provided these ranges with a 70% confidence.

“I want to encourage Virginians to take the time and prepare now for this coming storm season,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This includes not only our coastal residents but inland Virginians as well. History has proven that our inland communities are just as susceptible to hurricane impacts like flooding, tornadoes, and high winds.”

For comprehensive information on preparedness, response, and recovery activities, please review the Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide, which not only includes evacuation information, but also highlights actions to take in the event of tropical weather.

“Virginia should be proud of the work being done by our public safety agencies to ensure a swift and effective response to all hazards, including hurricanes,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Robert Mosier. “We can’t forget that the best form of preparedness is ensuring you and your family also have a plan, make a kit, and stay informed of potential bad weather.”

Recent years have proven that hurricanes are also not just a coastal threat. Even storms that start in the lower Atlantic or Gulf States have the potential to come north and cause significant damage. This is why we encourage all Virginians across the Commonwealth to take the time to become prepared.

“Preparedness is all about being ready before a storm or disaster even develops,” said Shawn Talmadge, State Coordinator at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “Many of the items we ask Virginians to keep in a kit or plans that should be made are not only applicable to hurricanes but for many other types of hazards as well. Just a little bit of planning goes a long way in ensuring the safety and welfare of you and your family.”

Take the time now to review your insurance policy, secure your property, and create a plan that includes arrangements for your pets or those that may need extra assistance. Below are a few critical steps to ensure you and your family’s safety.

Know your zone. Evacuation may become necessary depending on the track and severity of the storm. Review Virginia’s evacuation zones at Users can enter their physical address in the search bar of the website to view and confirm their designated evacuation zone.

Complete a family communication plan. Prepare for how you will assemble and communicate with your family and loved ones. Identify meeting locations and anticipate where you will go. Federal Emergency Management Agency guidance on family communications plans is available here.

Check your insurance coverage. Remember, there may be a waiting period (typically 30 days) for a flood insurance policy to become effective, and be aware that not all storm-related losses, such as flooding, are covered under traditional policies. Now is the time to review your coverage and contact your insurance agent for any changes. If you are not insured against floods, talk to your insurance agent or visit If you are a renter, now is the time to ensure you have adequate coverage to protect your belongings.

Make an emergency kit. Assemble an emergency kit that includes nonperishable food, water, medication, sanitary supplies, radios, extra batteries, and important documents. Learn more about building an emergency supply kit  here.

Stay informed. Identify where to go for trusted sources of information during emergencies. Check with your local emergency management office to sign up for alerts that go directly to your phone or email. Be sure to monitor local news for watches and warnings in your area and follow directions of local officials. Power outages are always a concern during weather events—make sure you have a battery-operated radio available so you can still receive life-saving alerts.

There are many resources available to assist with hurricane planning efforts. Learn more about preparing your business, your family, and your property against hurricane threats (and other disasters) at and

Virginia Reports First Presumed Case of Monkeypox

UPDATE May 27, 2022: The CDC has confirmed that the Virginia patient tested positive for monkeypox. For more information, visit VDH’s Monkeypox Surveillance and Investigation webpage, here.

(Richmond, VA) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced the first presumed monkeypox case in a Virginia resident. The initial testing was completed at the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services. VDH is awaiting confirmatory test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The patient is an adult female resident of the Northern region of Virginia with recent international travel history to an African country where the disease is known to occur. She was not infectious during travel. She did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home to monitor her health. To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided. The health department is identifying and monitoring the patient’s close contacts.  No additional cases have been detected in Virginia at this time.

“Monkeypox is a very rare disease in the United States.  The patient is currently isolating and does not pose a risk to the public.” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Transmission requires close contact with someone with symptomatic monkeypox, and this virus has not shown the ability to spread rapidly in the general population. VDH is monitoring national and international trends and has notified medical providers in Virginia to watch for monkeypox cases and report them to their local health district as soon as possible. Based on the limited information currently available about the evolving multi-country outbreak, the risk to the public appears to be very low.”

Although rare, monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness that is transmitted when someone has close contact with an infected person or animal. Person-to-person spread occurs with prolonged close contact or with direct contact with body fluids or contact with contaminated materials such as clothing or linens. Illness typically begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and swelling of the lymph nodes. After a few days, a specific type of rash appears, often starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. Symptoms generally appear seven to 14 days after exposure and, for most people, clear up within two to four weeks. Some people can have severe illness and die. As with many viral illnesses, treatment mainly involves supportive care and relief of symptoms.

If you are sick and have symptoms consistent with monkeypox, seek medical care from your healthcare provider, especially if you are in one of the following groups:

  • Those who traveled to central or west African countries, parts of Europe where monkeypox cases have been reported, or other areas with confirmed cases of monkeypox during the month before their symptoms began,
  • Those who have had contact with a person with confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or
  • Men who regularly have close or intimate contact with other men.

If you need to seek care, call your healthcare provider first. Let them know you are concerned about possible monkeypox infection so they can take precautions to ensure that others are not exposed.

On May 20, 2022, VDH distributed a Clinician Letter to medical professionals reminding them to report any suspected cases of monkeypox to their local health department as soon as possible and implement appropriate infection prevention precautions.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websitethe World Health Organization website and the VDH website.



The Virginia Department of Health in Collaboration with ESO Launches First-Ever Virginia Stroke Registry – Statewide View of Stroke Data will Improve Care for all People in Virginia

(RICHMOND, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in partnership with ESO, today announced the launch of the first-ever Virginia Stroke Registry. ESO is the leading data and software company serving emergency medical services, fire departments, hospitals, state and federal agencies.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, and stroke-related death rates have risen in recent years. This new Registry will allow stroke centers across Virginia to securely submit stroke data to one central location. The data will be used to identify evidence-based trends and patterns to help stroke patients transition with intent and proper treatment through the entire spectrum of care – from the 911 call to the hospital to rehabilitation to post-acute care. All hospitals and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies in the Commonwealth will be able to participate.

“As we observe National Stroke Awareness Month in May, we are also recognizing this milestone in the evolution of health care in the Commonwealth,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “The ability to collect and share stroke data and collaborate with other organizations across the Commonwealth is a major step forward in our ability to improve the care and well-being of all the people of Virginia.”

“Hospitals, EMS agencies and VDH will collaborate through the Virginia Stroke Registry’s Health Data Exchange to better track, assess and improve the quality of care for acute stroke patients across the Commonwealth,” said Stroke Registry Coordinator of the Division of Prevention and Health Promotion Kathryn Funk, AGACNP-BC, MSN, SCRN, CNRN. “The Virginia Stroke Registry will provide the Commonwealth a greater picture of Virginia’s Stroke burden, highlight our successes in stroke care, and allow the VDH to assist hospitals towards better allocation of resources to raise stroke awareness and improve patient outcomes for all Virginians.”

Key Benefits of the Virginia Stroke Registry Include: 

  • Data: Collection of stroke data using a nationally-recognized data set from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program.
  • Collaboration: Partnership across the Commonwealth to identify key trends to improve stroke patient care and response.
  • Evidence-based Decision-making: Keen, data-driven insights to make informed decisions and drive quality improvement across all stages of the continuum of stroke care.
  • Research: Ability to produce and deliver research papers and studies based on aggregate data, state-wide data.

“We’re proud to partner with Virginia on this initiative,” said Dr. Brent Myers, Chief Medical Officer for ESO. “This innovative registry will serve as a best practice for collecting and analyzing critical healthcare data that can have a profound impact on the treatment and care of stroke patients.”

The Virginia Stroke Registry project rollout and training began on May 10. For more information, visit:

Colin Greene column: How to prevent heat-related illnesses

Originally posted at

girl in poolAlthough it won’t officially be summer for another month, many Virginians already are facing some days of extremely hot weather. What follows are some recommendations on staying safe in the heat.

Every year, more than 600 people in the U.S. die of heat-related illnesses, and many others experience hospitalization. It is crucial to ensure that we take precautions against heat injury.

Your body has several ways of getting rid of excess heat. The first is to release it into the air (or water) around you from your skin, and to dilate the blood vessels beneath your skin to carry more internal heat to the surface to be released.

The second occurs through breathing, where body-temperature air is exhaled and replaced by cooler inhaled air. The third — and perhaps most important — is through sweating. Water in sweat evaporates, taking heat with it and cooling the skin.

When the body can’t shed enough heat, its core temperature starts to rise, and serious danger can follow. Heat cramps might occur, where muscle pain develops, often after overexertion in the heat. Heat exhaustion might follow, with excessive sweating; cool, clammy skin; extreme fatigue; headache; muscle cramps; nausea or vomiting; dizziness or lightheadedness; confusion; and darker-colored or decreased urination.

Heat stroke is the most serious outcome, where the body’s cooling systems have been overwhelmed. The body temperature rises to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; the skin becomes warm and dry; and rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and significant mental status changes occur. This might lead to permanent brain and organ injury, coma and death.

Extreme heat is especially dangerous in humid climates. As the air temperature approaches body temperature, it becomes harder for the skin or breath to release body heat. In high humidity, sweat evaporates very slowly, losing much of its cooling effect.

Dehydration occurs as body fluid is lost through sweating and evaporation. In turn, dehydration makes it harder to sweat, and increases risk of organ damage due to loss of blood flow.

The best way to avoid heat injury is prevention. Here are few tips from an old soldier, who now is your state health commissioner:

  • Be aware of the weather forecast for any given summer day, and plan ahead. (P.S. This is good advice all year round.)
  • For particularly hot, humid days, limit outdoor activity. Stay in an air-conditioned location as much as possible, and if you will be outdoors, frequently seek shade. Wear light-colored clothing and wide-brimmed hats to reflect the sun’s rays. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
  • Limit or postpone outdoor exertion. The hotter it gets, the more time resting (in shade) you need and the less time you should spend working. Play, such as sports or hiking, counts just as much as work.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you will be outdoors, plan on drinking a quart of fluid every hour or so. Alternating water with a sports-type drink often works best. Skip the caffeine and alcohol: Both of these increase urination and dehydration.

Don’t wait to feel thirsty.

  • Drink fluids on a schedule when you’re outdoors in the heat.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. There is water in your food as well as in your drink.
  • Have a buddy, and watch out for each other while in the heat. Include weather in your work planning.
  • Be a buddy, especially to elderly or disadvantaged neighbors, who might not have air conditioning. Check up on them; offer them access to AC during the heat. Homeless people are especially at risk.
  • Never leave children or animals alone in vehicles.

For mild symptoms, in yourself or your buddy:

  • Get out of the heat, into an air-conditioned space if possible, but into the shade as a minimum.
  • Rest in a cool area until symptoms completely resolve.
  • Drink water or sports drinks, as discussed above.
  • Consider calling it quits for the day for any more outdoor exertion.

For any concern of heat stroke (changes in level of consciousness; disorientation or confusion; warm, dry skin without sweating despite the heat):

  • Dial 911 immediately.
  • Cool the victim down as effectively as possible: move to shade/indoors, wet down with water and fan the body.
  • Only give fluids by mouth if fully conscious and oriented.
  • Get to medical attention as soon as physically possible.

Heat is part of summer — and sometimes late spring — but it can be dangerous if not treated with respect. Let’s prevent heat injuries in our commonwealth.