First case of coronavirus in Norfolk reported

Norfolk — The Norfolk Department of Public Health said Wednesday that someone in Norfolk has tested positive for COVID-19. It is the first case reported in the city.

Officials said the man, who was in his 50s, self-isolated once symptoms of the virus showed up. Officials also say it is he likely picked COVID 19 up from someone out of state who had it when he came into close contact with that person.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver during a news briefing Wednesday said James City County, as of noon Wednesday, has 17 positive cases — total for the state Wednesday was 77.

Norman said the Peninsula Health District is investigating more than 315 contacts for the 17 positive cases in James City County.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, like pneumonia.

Norman again urged people 65 and older ––unless they are doing work that is “absolutely essential”–– should stay at home and distance themselves from others.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus, which has now infected more than 200,000 people worldwide and killed more than 8,000. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Dr. Daniel Carey, secretary of health and human resources, gave an update Wednesday on hospital resources, saying there are nearly 2,000 hospital beds across the state with respiratory support equipment including ventilators and the hospital support systems has 400 ventilators ready to deploy.

The state commissioner of Social Services, Dr. Duke Storen, said child care service providers would get more guidelines, but should keep the number of people to 10, including staff, adding when they feed children, keep them six feet apart and stagger recess.

Dr. Denise Toney, director of the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services said there is a national shortage of a wide range of supplies and they are attempting to get as many supplies as they can from the federal government.

She added they are continuing to work with the Virginia Department to Health.

Now, there was question on the possibility of using the National Guard.

Gov. Ralph Northam said he does not plan to deploy the National Guard, noting if he were to deploy them, they would be used to help with hospitals, equipment, staff and other needs.

The governor also urged Virginians to donate blood, saying “I am going to donate blood this afternoon and I urge all healthy Virginians to do the same.”

Northam said the Red Cross has a shortage of donated blood and they are taking certain precautions such as taking the temperatures of those who wish to donate.

James Hatcher, CEO of the Red Cross Virginia region, said in the last two weeks they have seen thousands of blood drives canceled — people who wish to donate can set up an appointment at redcross.org.

“I want to thank Virginians for taking this situation seriously,” Northam said. “We will get through this together.”

Virginia currently has the capacity to test between 260 and 360 patients at state labs and is expecting additional testing materials from the federal government this week, officials said.

The Norfolk Department of Public Health activated a public information line (757.683.2745) for questions from residents about the novel coronavirus situation.

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