Over the weekend, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Rappahannock Area Health District saw their biggest increase, to date, with cases climbing from 20 on Saturday to 28 on Sunday.

Stafford County continues to lead the local health district with 18 cases, followed by Spotsylvania County with six and King George County and Fredericksburg with two each. There have been no confirmed cases in Caroline County.

“As the number of positive cases continues to rise, we strongly encourage individuals to stay home and practice social distancing to minimize the spread of the disease in the community,” said Allison Balmes John, spokesperson for the local health district. “It is especially important to self-isolate if you or someone in your home has been exposed or is showing symptoms.”

Meanwhile, local governments, agencies and health care officials are trying to keep residents informed and provide services, both to the most vulnerable who may need extra help and to those taking care of the sick.

Mary Washington Healthcare is hosting a virtual town hall at 7 p.m. Wednesday to address the public health issues of the novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness that, to date, has sickened 890 people and caused 22 deaths in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s Sunday figures.

The state updates its website daily at 9 a.m., but its numbers often differ from what local health districts are seeing, RAHD officials said last week, because of the ever-changing statistics and a lag in reporting.

The town hall will include Dr. Michael McDermott, president and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare; Dr. Christopher Newman, the health system’s chief operations officer; and Dr. Donald Stern, acting director of the local health district. The three will address clinical perspectives and community resources and take questions from the virtual audience.

The event is open to the public. To participate, go to Facebook and search: Mary Washington Healthcare, then click on the town hall listing.

On Monday, King George County’s emergency operations center is launching its informational hotline and email for elderly residents and the disabled to access COVID-19 updates, county services and state and federal resources. Both will be in operation weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is 540/775-8977 and the email address, COVID19@co.kinggeorge.state.va.us.

Other local governments have set up COVID-19 pages on their websites and are posting regular updates on cases, closures and services. They also post phone numbers on how to contact staff, who continue to work even as offices and buildings are closed to the public.

The Rappahannock Area YMCA is working with local school districts to provide child care for children of hospital employees and first responders. Operation YMCA CREW—or Childcare Relief for Essential Workers—is set to start on April 6 and be offered from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The YMCA is working with local school districts to provide care at a school site, and the program is for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“Working together as a community, these essential workers can have peace of mind, knowing their children are being cared for,” according to a press release from the YMCA.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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