Two individuals in their 70s who reside in Culpeper have tested positive for novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Wade Kartchner, health director, Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District of the Virginia Department of Health, announced Friday evening in a press release. He said that both individuals reside in the same household.
Health Department staff will be contacting people who have been identified as close contacts; they will be asked to self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days.
Kartchner said in the release, “These cases mark the first positive COVID-19 cases in the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District [which includes Fauquier, Culpeper, Orange, Madison and Rappahannock counties].
“The patients described a rapid onset of symptoms, and quickly self-isolated, which greatly limited potential contacts… To protect patient confidentiality no further information about the patients will be released. As we receive laboratory results, our local public health staff work diligently to isolate patients and identify community members who may have been exposed.”
Kartchner emphasized, “It is critical that people follow the public health guidelines on isolation and quarantine. All community members should be following the guidelines on social distancing and good hygiene. Social distancing is one of the most effective strategies in lessening the impact of this pandemic.”
He recommended that residents should avoid social gatherings of more than 10 individuals. Anyone who is 65 years or older, or who has a serious chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, immune compromise), should seriously consider staying at home. “We all have a responsibility and duty to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our community from this novel coronavirus,” he said.
Kartchner said that 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, particularly among those who are older or those 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 spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, RRHD 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.
- If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor.
Kartchner said that as the COVID-19 outbreak expands, recommendations may change. “RRHD 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 general questions about COVID-19, community members may call the RRHD COVID-19 Hotline at 540-316-6302. For the latest on COVID-19, visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus. These cases may not yet reflected in the website dashboard, which is updated daily, with cases recorded by 5 p.m. the evening before.