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Health Officials Identify Northern Virginia Resident, in 80s, as Second COVID-19 Case

State public health lab
The state public health lab is running tests on COVID-19. The results for the second positive test in Virginia was identified by these scientists, state health officials say. (Photo Credit: Crixell Matthews / VPM)

A second “presumed positive” case of COVID-19 was identified this weekend in Virginia. 

The Virginia Dept. of Health and Fairfax County health officials said they are a resident of Fairfax City in their 80s. They started developing symptoms on February 28 and was hospitalized on March 5. Currently, they are in stable condition. 

The first positive test of the disease in Virginia was from a U.S. Marine at Fort Belvoir, which VDH announced Saturday. 

Dr. Lilian Peake, the state epidemiologist who is leading a state team to tackle the disease, said in a press conference Sunday that the individuals travelled internationally before developing symptoms and that the cases are unrelated. 

“There are no signs of the virus spreading in the community,” she said. 

Peake said the tests were done at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, the state public health lab in Richmond. Next, she said, the tests will go to the CDC. 

The test results for seven Virginians are currently pending. Nearly 140 people are being monitored that have symptoms of the illness. 

The first case identified lives on the Marine Corps Quantico base and went abroad for work. Officials say the Marine reported to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital a "few days ago" and that an investigation is underway to identify who the individual had been in contact with. 

Health and Fairfax officials are also investigating who the second individual had close interactions with in Fairfax, and where significant exposure to the illness may have occurred. They say the individual travelled on a Nile River cruise similar to the other positive coronavirus patients, but “to their knowledge” it was a different boat than the other cases.

While they are still investigating, officials said there was “no exposure of school aged children in the community.” They are also looking into who the patient was in contact with at the hospital. The name of the hospital they are being treated at is not being released due to privacy concerns, officials say. 

The Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Jeffrey McKay, emphasized that the county has the resources to “deal with this type of epidemic, that have been in place for over a decade.”

Referencing how Virginia prepares annually for the influenza and similar highly contagious illnesses, like H1N1 or “Swine Flu”, state and local officials say they are taking the precautions necessary to keep residents safe. 

In a joint statement, Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said they are “carefully monitoring the case” and “are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the Commonwealth is getting the federal support it needs to respond.”

These test results were released just days after President Donald Trump signed legislation that puts more funding toward treating and containing the spread of coronavirus.

If you have any questions about COVID-19, the state has a call center that can be reached at 1-877-ASK-VDH3. 

Editor's Note: The pronouns he/his were used during a press conference Sunday describing the second patient, along with their/they. Upon further review of the information from the Virginia Department of Health, gender pronouns have been changed to be gender neutral because it is not clear how the second patient identifies.

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