Department of Health confirms first Virginia coronavirus death

Virginia Department of HealthThe Virginia Department of Health 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.

Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement that he and his wife, First Lady Pamela Northam, are “deeply saddened to learn that a Virginian has died from COVID-19, and we grieve for everyone this virus has touched around the world.”

“The health of Virginians and our communities is my most important priority right now,” Northam said. “As a Commonwealth, we have taken major, critical steps to stop the spread of COVID- 19. I have declared a state of emergency, closed K-12 schools across the state, restricted visitors at nursing homes and correctional facilities, limited state employee travel, and canceled large events.

“This is a public health crisis—we must all treat it as such,” Northam said. “Again, I urge Virginians: 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. It is all of our responsibility, yours and mine, to keep each other safe and healthy.”

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.


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