Lord Fairfax Health District Identifies First Local COVID-19 Case; Works to Identify and Notify Contacts

March 22, 2020

Media Contact: Lorrie Andrew-Spear, lorrie.andrew-spear@vdh.virginia.gov

Lord Fairfax Health District Identifies First Local COVID-19 Case; Works to Identify and Notify Contacts

(Winchester, VA.) – The Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD) has been notified that a resident of the District has tested positive for novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The patient, a woman in her 30s, has mild symptoms at present, and is being treated as an outpatient while isolated from the general public. Health District staff will be contacting anyone in the area who is identified as a close contact of the positive case. Those identified will be asked to self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms in coordination with the Health Department. To protect patient confidentiality no further information about the patient will be released.

“This is the first case detected in a District resident, and given the recent appearance of cases in neighboring areas, comes as no surprise,” said LFHD Director Dr. Colin Greene. “The recommendations in place yesterday still apply today. If you are 65 years or older, or if you have a serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, immune compromise,  you should seriously consider staying at home. We all must do our part to protect ourselves, our neighbors, and the larger community, from this novel coronavirus. As we continue to see new cases of COVID-19, it is critical that people follow the public health guidelines on social distancing and good hygiene.”

“The Virginia Department of Health, Lord Fairfax Health District and our healthcare partners are working together around the clock to identify cases of COVID-19 in our communities across the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Greene. “We will work to identify potential contacts of each new case, assess their risk of exposure, and recommend appropriate public health and medical measures.”

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death. Persons at highest risk include those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms typically appear 4 to 5 days after being exposed to an infectious person, but may occur up to 14 days afterwards.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It infects the body via the nostrils, mouth, and eyes, so inhaling those droplets or having them settle on surfaces and transferring them from contaminated fingers are the pathways of spread. Evidence suggests that the highest risks of exposure from an infected person include:

  • being coughed or sneezed on;
  • other direct contact with fluid from mouth, nose, or eyes;
  • spending more than a few minutes within 6 feet (2 meters)
  • touching one’s eyes, nose, or mouth (the portals of entry, remember) with unwashed hands

To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, all people should practice 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.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor.
  • Practice social distancing. Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and other individuals.
  • Avoid crowds of more than 10 people

As the COVID-19 outbreak expands, recommendations may change. LFHD is working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide the best possible guidance for the community.

For the latest on COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.

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(NOTE: This case is not yet reflected in the VDH website dashboard, which is updated daily with cases recorded by 5 p.m. the evening before.)