Virginia reports first COVID-19 death

Published 10:58 pm Saturday, March 14, 2020

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A COVID-19 patient from James City County has died, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Health.

The patient, a male in his 70s, was hospitalized when he died, the press release stated. He acquired the disease through an unknown source. The official 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 Dr. M. Norman Oliver, state health commissioner. “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.”

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In a joint press release from James City and York counties as well as Williamsburg, Hampton, Newport News and Poquoson, city and county administrators urged Peninsula residents to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people.

“We as a community have the obligation to take further steps to curtail the spread, our first and most effective defense is to limit potential exposure,” the release said. They specified the events people were urged to avoid, including “church services, civic/social organization meetings, and public events and festivities.”

The officials said critical needs such as grocery shopping and fueling vehicles should not be neglected.

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.