Two Culpeper residents in their 70s, occupants of the same household, have tested positive for the coronavirus known as COVID-19, according to a release from the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District (RRHD) issued Friday night. They are the first confirmed cases of the highly contagious illness in the five-county health district, which includes Orange, Fauquier, Madison and Rappahannock as well as Culpeper.
The health department will seek out people identified as close contacts of the two people with the virus. Close contacts will be asked to self-quarantine and keep track of any symptoms for 14 days.
The two individuals reported that their symptoms came on rapidly. They quickly self-quarantined, according to the release.
"To protect patient confidentiality, no further information about the patients will be released. As we receive laboratory results, our local public health staff [will] work diligently to isolate patients and identify community members who may have been exposed," said Dr. Wade Kartchner, RRHD health director.
"“It is critical that people follow the public health guidelines on isolation and quarantine,” Kartchner continued.
“All community members should be following the guidelines on social distancing and good hygiene. Social distancing is one of the most effective strategies in lessening the impact of this pandemic.”
Social distancing means staying at least six feet apart from other people (the distance droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel), avoiding gatherings and refraining from shaking hands and hugging.
The RRHD release notes that people should avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people and that people 65 years old or older and those suffering from serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or a compromised immune system) should seriously consider staying at home.
Kartchner said, “We all have a responsibility and duty to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our community from this novel coronavirus.”
While many people suffering from the virus have mild to moderate symptoms, the release points out that some who have COVID-19 suffer severely and others die from it.
Here are the RRHD's recommendations regarding COVID-19, as stated in the press release:
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, RRHD 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.
- If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor.
If you have general questions about the virus, call the RRHD COVID-19 Hotline at (540) 316-6302. For current information on COVID-19, go to www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.