The West Piedmont Health District announced today its first case of COVID-19 illness in a resident of the district. The West Piedmont Health District covers Henry, Franklin and Patrick County as well as the City of Martinsville. The patient is a female in her 60s. She is isolated at home and monitoring her health. To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided.

“The Virginia Department of Health and our healthcare partners are working together around the clock to identify cases of COVID-19 in our communities and across the Commonwealth,” said Kerry Gateley, M.D., interim director, West Piedmont Health District. “We work to identify potential contacts of each case, assess their risk of exposure and recommend appropriate public health and medical measures, as needed.”

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 most often 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.

“With new cases arriving this week in central and western Virginia, we all are reminded of the steps each of us can take as individuals to protect ourselves and each other. It boils down to maintaining effective hygiene and social distance,” said Dr. Gateley. “Everyone should reconsider any plans to gather together in large groups this weekend, and every day.”

To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages everyone to:

· 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 when out in public; and

· Avoid crowds of more than 10 people.

For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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