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From Mount Rogers Health District: (MARION, Virginia) – The Virginia Department of Health’s Mount Rogers Health District announced today a new confirmed case of COVID-19 in the district. The patient is a Wythe County resident who contracted the illness during out-of-state travel. The person is self-isolating at home and there is no concern over community contact. There is no evidence of community transmission within Wythe County at this time.

“We continue to see new cases of COVID-19 throughout the Commonwealth, and it’s now in our area. This reminds us how very critical it is that people follow public health guidelines on social distancing and good hygiene,” said Karen Shelton, M.D., director of the Mount Rogers Health District. “Social distancing is one of the most effective strategies in limiting the spread of COVID-19, and lessening the impact of this pandemic.”

People should avoid social gatherings of more than 10 individuals. If you are 65 years or older, or if you have a serious chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, immune compromised), you should seriously consider staying at home. “We all have a responsibility and duty to take this seriously and do everything we can to protect ourselves and those around us,” said Dr. Shelton.

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor.

For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

(NOTE: This case is not yet reflected in the VDH website dashboard, which is updated daily with cases recorded by 5 p.m. the evening before.)

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Statement from Kiesha Preston: In February of this year I made the decision to run for Roanoke City Council but In the process of seeking the Democratic nomination I have quickly discovered that while the process is nominally equal, it is also undeniably inequitable.

I strongly believe in foundational things we are taught about American democracy; specifically, that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

This democratic ideal should mean that anyone who feels qualified has a fair and equal opportunity to run for office, but with expensive filing fees, and a closed off nomination process that puts the fate of Roanoke City Council in the hands of the few, opposed to the many, it has become apparent that there are outdated systemic obstacles in place that currently create barriers for some candidates while favoring others. Toss in the added limitations that we’re all now experiencing as a result of a worldwide pandemic, and the flaws in the process are further underscored.

I pride myself on being someone who stands up for what I know to be right and my track record supports that. In the last year, I wrote the Domestic Violence Victims Protection Act, signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam on March 23, 2020. From this important work, I also briefed members of Congress on injustices that victims of domestic violence face.

Knowing the barriers that I would face trying to enter this primary and knowing in my heart that these barriers should not exist, I was confronted with a choice. I could accept the broken system offered by the primary process, or I could stand by my convictions and seek independent access to the ballot in what I believe is a more democratic way, in hopes of one day bringing down these barriers for future candidates.

This week, I chose to stand firmly with my belief in a democratic process by choosing not to participate in the Democratic primary and instead, I will be running as an independent candidate. By doing so, I will be removing one set of systemic barriers and facing a new set of challenges but I welcome the hard work required to embark on the road ahead, and I look forward to running a campaign on my mission to ensure that the voices of every individual in every community in Roanoke City are represented fairly as together we propel our great city towards continued growth and sustainability.

NEWS RELEASE: On March 27, 2020 at about 7:30 am, Roanoke Police responded to a report of a person down in the 1000 block of 4th St SE. Arriving officers located an adult female deceased in a wooded area. This incident is being investigated as a suspicious death at this time. The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call (540)344-8500 and share what you know. You can also text us at 274637; please begin the text with “RoanokePD” to ensure it’s properly sent. Both calls and texts can remain anonymous.

VIRGINIA TECH PRESIDENT TIMOTHY SANDS LETTER: In recent days, the first confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Southwest Virginia have emerged. Included among these cases is a member of the Virginia Tech community, a student living off campus in Blacksburg who is believed to have been exposed during recent international travel.  According to the New River Health District, our student is receiving care and has been in self-isolation, with no known exposures to the public. There is no evidence of a risk of community spread and we wish the student a quick recovery.

The Virginia Department of Health, working with our own health professionals, has identified the individuals who came in contact with the student and is managing the situation to prevent further exposure in this case. Based on the experiences of other Virginia communities, and those throughout the country, it is likely that more cases will be identified in the coming days and weeks. Going forward, all cases will be noted on Virginia Tech’s COVID-19 website. Our thoughts are with everyone in the Hokie community nationwide and around the world who is dealing with the effects of the virus.

By now you all should be aware of the current procedures we have in place to continue instruction online, maintain research and critical operations, and keep our employees on the payroll, while also following state mandates and recommendations to minimize the spread of the virus.  It is more important than ever for you to stay informed by visiting vt.edu/covid-19 and reading the Daily Email.

I strongly encourage you to follow public health guidelines to stay at home and practice social distancing to keep our community healthy and ensure that we continue to have the capacity to care for and manage the needs of those who become ill. There is strong evidence that communities that take decisive action to #flattenthecurve have fewer cases of COVID-19.

Our local community has created a task force to share resources and expertise to meet the needs that arise.  I encourage you to support the local businesses who are working to provide food and essentials within the guidelines issued by the governor and Virginia Department of Health. In addition to the serious health concerns, this situation is potentially devastating for businesses and community partners, many of which have supported Virginia Tech for generations.  Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Montgomery County are a crucial part of what makes our campus a unique and a special place. We could not ask for better partners, neighbors, and friends.

I want to speak directly to our students, those in Blacksburg as well as those in communities across the country. Whether you are here on the Blacksburg campus, in off-campus residences, or in another community, it is your individual and collective responsibility in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) to respect and protect yourself and others by following public health guidelines. If you are on campus or in town, continue to follow state and university guidelines regarding social distance and limited contact. Stay at home if you can. You are here because this is the safest and perhaps the only place you had to go, a place you share with a broad community of people whose generous spirit of friendship and hospitality makes Virginia Tech feel like home.

This semester we will all face challenges, and we will all have opportunities to have a positive impact on the lives of others.  Thank you for everything you do to support our community.

NEWS RELEASE: STUART, Va. – Virginia State Police Senior Trooper K.D. Mabe is investigating a two vehicle crash which resulted in a fatality.  The crash occurred at Wednesday (Mar 25) at 6:43 p.m. on Route 677, two tenths of a mile south of Route 672 in Patrick County.

A 2018 Nissan Rogue was traveling south on Route 677, when the vehicle crossed the center line and struck a 1999 Harley Davidson.

The Harley Davidson was driven by Jacob Lehue Goad, 30, of Ararat, Va.  Mr. Goad was wearing a helmet and died at the scene.

The Nissan was driven by Joshua Ray, 35, of Ararat, Va. Ray was wearing his seatbelt and was not injured.

Ray was charged with Driving under the Influence, and Vehicular Manslaughter.

The crash remains under investigation.

NEWS RELEASE: In order to encourage the practice of social distancing while using transit, Valley Metro will be suspending fare collections on all Valley Metro transit services beginning Friday, March 27, until Friday, April 24 (subject to change). Seven-day and 31-day VPASS holders will be able to exchange their valid/active transit bus pass for a new pass. Seven-day and 31-day VPASS holders receiving a new pass should not activate the new pass until after the fare-free service period has expired. During this period of fare-free transit service due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, passengers are asked to observe the following:

  • Only travel for essential needs.
  • Use the front door for entry/use the rear doors for exit. All Valley Metro vehicles are ADA accessible. ADA features on Valley Metro vehicles will be available as usual.
  • Limit interaction with the bus operator, with the exception being in case of emergency (Valley Metro staff will be available to answer questions/address concerns at the Campbell Court Transfer Center or call 540-982-2222).
  • No extended rides on one transit route will be permitted. Valley Metro staff will be closely monitoring each transit bus in order to maintain a safe environment.

If you have questions, please contact Kevin Price, General Manager of Valley Metro, at 540-613-5523 or by email at kprice@valleymetro.com.

NEWS RELEASE: RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA today directed all hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries or procedures to help conserve supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient. The order also does not apply to outpatient visits in hospital-based clinics, family planning services, or emergency needs.
Earlier this week, Governor Northam recommended that hospitals postpone any elective surgeries, and many have already done so.
“Hospitals and medical facilities in Virginia and around the country are in desperate need of additional masks, gowns, gloves, and other personal protective equipment,” said Governor Northam. “While we work to increase our supply, it makes sense to decrease the demand on that equipment where we can. Postponing elective surgeries allows us to divert more PPE to the medical staff who are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak so we can better protect the men and men on the front lines of this public health emergency, fighting to keep us all safe.”
Licensed inpatient and outpatient surgical hospitals, free-standing endoscopy centers, physicians’ offices, and dental, orthodontic, and endodontic offices may perform any procedure or surgery that if delayed or canceled would result in the patient’s condition worsening. Outpatient surgical hospitals are encouraged to work with local inpatient hospitals to assist with surge capacity needs. The full text of Order of Public Health Emergency Two is available here.
Virginia received its first shipment of PPE from the national stockpile this week and the state has made its second request. The Governor continues to call for a nationally-led response for acquiring and distributing PPE so that states are not competing against each other, the federal government, and even other countries for the equipment, causing higher prices in the private sector.
Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Two that lifts Virginia’s certificate of public need restrictions, allowing hospitals and nursing homes to increase their bed capacity as needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Northam has ordered many non-essential businesses to close for 30 days, and told Virginians to stay home except for necessary trips out, so as to increase social distancing and slow the spread of the virus.

From State Health Department: The New River Health District announced yesterday  its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident of the district. The patient is a female in her 20s, and lives in Radford. She is self-isolating, with no known exposures to the public. To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided.

“We’ve been preparing for this news for more than two weeks,” said Noelle Bissell, M.D., director, New River Health District. “The Virginia Department of Health and our partners in health and public safety have been in constant contact to develop effective measures to keep New River Valley residents safe and well. Now, more than ever, it’s important for everyone to practice personal public health precautions, primarily for hand and surface hygiene and social distancing. These are the most effective ways to minimize the spread of illness and keep yourself and those around you well.”

“For each confirmed case of any communicable illness that is required to be reported, the VDH identifies potential contacts, assesses their risk of exposure and recommends appropriate public health and medical measures,” said Dr. Bissell.

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms most often appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In a small number of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, heart or lung disease or compromised immune systems.

To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages everyone to:

· 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;

· Practice social distancing. Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and other individuals when out in public; and

· Avoid crowds of more than 10 people.

From Roanoke County Police Department: On March 24, 2020 at approximately 0106am officers with the Roanoke County Police Department responded to a disturbance with weapons call at 4333 Electric Rd (Copper Croft Apts.). The call was upgraded while officers were en route to a shooting call a single victim had been shot in the leg. Upon officers arriving and securing the scene the victim was treated and transported to a local hospital by paramedics for a non-life threatening wound to his leg. The suspect had already fled the scene before officers arrived in a possible silver sedan or an AUDI.

Gov. Ralph Northam is warning state residents about a lengthy disruption to daily life as officials try to stem the intensity of the coronavirus outbreak. Northam  yesterday said COVID-19 will affect life for months, and the sooner people adopt new ways of living the sooner the challenges will end. State health officials last night announced the deaths of three more people who tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to six. Northam says he’ll announce  today what’s going to happen with public schools, which are now in the middle of a two-week closure.


From State Health Department: (Newport News, Va.) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has reported the deaths of three Peninsula residents, two who previously tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 and a third newly positive case. All three were females in their 80’s and hospitalized. One was a resident of a long-term care facility. The three patients were from Newport News, Williamsburg and James City County.

The three patients acquired COVID-19 through an unknown source. The cause of death was respiratory failure because of COVID-19. Two of the cases were included in the statewide COVID-19 positive case count today on the VDH website at www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus. The third patient was a new case and not included. None of the three deaths was in the website death total today.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce three additional victims of COVID-19. We at VDH express our condolences to those families,” said Peninsula Acting Health Director Dr. Steve Julian. “Increased public cooperation with the publicized guidelines that lessen the spread of the disease will reduce the incidence of deaths related to COVID-19.”

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