The arrival of COVID-19 in the Dan River Region was inevitable, given its rapid spread.
“It’s not news that we want to hear,” Danville City Manager Ken Larking said Sunday. But, “it’s not surprising that it has happened.”
The Pittsylvania-Danville Health District confirmed the region’s first case Sunday morning.
The patient is a Danville resident, a male in his 40s who was exposed to a known positive coronavirus case somewhere else in Virginia, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Health.
“To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided,” Virginia Department of Health spokesman Robert Parker wrote in the release.
The department performs what is known as “contact tracing,” or identifying those who came in contact with the patient, assessing their risk of exposure and providing medical and public health measures for individuals and the community, as appropriate, Parker told the Danville Register & Bee via email.
“The most effective means of protecting yourself and those around you are hand and surface hygiene, social distancing [keeping 6 feet or more apart], avoiding close contact with others and groups, avoid touching your face, staying home if you’re sick and avoiding others who are sick,” Parker said.
Sovah Health-Danville confirmed Sunday it had a patient who tested positive for the disease and he is in isolation.
“We are continuing to work closely with the Pittsylvania/Danville Health District and the Virginia Department of Health and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the safety of our patients, the clinical teams who have been caring for this patient and all those within our facility,” Sovah Health spokeswoman Kelly Fitzgerald wrote in a news release Sunday.
Fitzgerald confirmed via email the patient was in stable condition.
“As required by law, we protect the privacy and confidentiality of all of our patients, so we cannot discuss the specifics of any patient treated at our hospital,” she wrote in the email to the Register & Bee.”
Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday the number of confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus in Virginia surged 44% from 152 to 219. Since last week, measures escalated around the nation to control the spread of the virus.
By Sunday evening, six deaths were reported in Virginia.
Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones said he was saddened but not surprised to hear of a case in the district.
“We knew it was just a matter of time before there would be a confirmed case in our area,” Jones said in a prepared statement Sunday. “This brings home the importance of practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing and disinfecting high-traffic areas.”
Sovah Health-Danville is imposing tight visitor restrictions, allowing no visitors at its campus as well as the Sovah Health facility in Martinsville, Fitzgerald wrote.
Exceptions to the zero-visitor protocol include pediatric patients, obstetric patients and those receiving end-of-life care, she added.
“We have already limited entry as well, and everyone entering the hospital campuses should continue to use the emergency department and the main entrance for access,” she wrote. “Per CDC guidelines, everyone entering our facilities will be screened for respiratory symptoms and travel history.”
Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Warren expressed sadness at hearing of the area’s coronavirus case.
“Pittsylvania County is disheartened to hear of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Danville,” Warren said in a prepared statement. “We ask our community to continue to be vigilant in social distancing, hand-washing and sanitation.”
Northam said Saturday he signed an executive order allowing hospitals and nursing homes to add more beds to deal with the pandemic, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms that include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms most often appear within 14 days of exposure to the virus, which spreads primarily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the state health department.
In a small number of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, among older people and those with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart or lung disease or compromised immune systems, according to the state health department.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.