Dr. Michael P. McDermott (copy)

Mary Washington Healthcare CEO Dr. Michael McDermott is urging area residents to follow social-distancing guidelines to avoid the virus.

Two of the seven people in Stafford County with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are related to each other, according to local public health officials.

The number of confirmed cases in the Fredericksburg region is inching upward and, as of Monday afternoon, stood at nine. There are seven from Stafford County and two from Spotsylvania County, according to the Rappahannock Area Health District.

The statewide numbers also continue to rise. Virginia reported its seventh COVID-19 death Monday, a Virginia Beach man in his 70s who already had underlying health conditions.

Four of the nine local people diagnosed with the disease have been hospitalized.

“To date, there have been relatively few patients with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization,” Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center stressed in a Sunday statement to the community. “Those who do receive care in isolated areas of the hospital, so we can safely provide continuous care for all other medical needs.”

Neither the local nor state health department is releasing information on the ages and genders of those with COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. But it looks as if the number of people being hospitalized in Virginia is similar to the national trend.

Virginia has 254 confirmed cases of the disease, and 38 people have been treated in hospitals for symptoms which include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Statewide, about 15 percent of those who’ve tested positive have been admitted to hospitals, according to the state health department.

That’s slightly higher than the national rate. About 12 percent of Americans with the illness needed hospitalization, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Its study looked at U.S. patients between Feb. 12 and March 16, before numbers started to rise dramatically.

In the midst of the outbreak, people are understandably panicked by news that colleagues at school or work have tested positive or know someone who has. Workers from several businesses have contacted The Free Lance-Star, worried because their employers have not shut down the office or notified others of possible exposure.

Local public health officials ask those who have had close contact with someone who’s tested positive to self-quarantine for two weeks while monitoring symptoms.

“Acquaintances of the individual with COVID-19 would only be notified if it was determined they indeed had contact,” stated a press release from the Rappahannock Area Health District.

State and local health officials continue to stress the need for people to stay home, away from others, and to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

“Just because you don’t have symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t have it and aren’t spreading it,” Dr. Mike McDermott, president and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare, said in a letter to the community. “By social distancing, you can make a big difference to your health and that of others around you. We must do this together.”

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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