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Charlottesville area virus deaths now 3, but little information available

The Thomas Jefferson Health District is now reporting three deaths related to COVID-19.

The first death, of a woman in her 80s, was reported March 31. The district gave an updated death count after a request from The Progress, and a spokeswoman, Kathryn Goodman, said no further information was available.

The district, which includes Charlottesville and Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, Louisa and Fluvanna counties, reported 100 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Tuesday evening. The district has previously reported the number of confirmed cases by locality, determined by where the infected person lives, but said that information was not currently available due to a new data system.

The district also said it expects to provide an update on the demographic breakdown of confirmed cases later this week.

Virginia Department of Health statistics Tuesday morning showed Albemarle County having 38 COVID-19 cases confirmed and Charlottesville with 23, but department and district case numbers often do not match.

Three reported cases of COVID-19 in the area have occurred at senior living facilities, but officials have not reported widespread community transmission within those facilities, as has happened in other Virginia complexes.

Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, a Charlottesville-area retirement home that reported a case last week, has taken significant efforts to combat spread, according to Erin Garvey, director of development.

Garvey said the initial case remains the only diagnosed case as of Tuesday.

Following the diagnosis, Garvey said the complex worked with the Virginia Department of Health to screen everyone who had contact with the infected individual. All residents have been following shelter in place guidelines, she said, and the complex recently implemented a mask policy for staff members, requiring them to wear masks at all times.

The Lodge at Old Trail, which reported a positive COVID-19 diagnosis last month, did not return requests for comment or any updates about its situation. The Colonnades also did not immediately return a request for comment.

A pandemic tracking site set up by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Alliance shows nearly 1,200 Virginians being treated for COVID-19 on Tuesday, including more than 400 who are in intensive care units and 283 of those patients on ventilators.

The website gathers information from hospitals and physicians across the state and includes patients who have been tested, but results have not been returned.

The organization does not break down the numbers by locality or region.

The number is much higher than that reported by VDH, which shows only 563 hospitalizations on its website.

The hospital and healthcare site indicated that only about 27% of ventilators in the state were currently in use, which means there is enough capacity at this point to handle serious cases of the disease.

COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which can create pneumonia in a victim’s lungs and require ventilators to breathe for a patient.

A shortage of ventilators has been cited as a reason for the number of deaths caused by the virus around the world.

Numbers from the University of Virginia Medical Center and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital were not readily available on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Martha Jefferson said the hospital was “continuing to see an increase in the number of positive COVID-19 patients we are treating,” and that while the hospital currently had enough supplies, was monitoring them closely.

“We continue to have capacity to care for patients in terms of beds, staff and ventilators, which has been helped by the new beds in our hospital expansion tower that opened last week,” said Eric Swensen, UVa medical center spokesman.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely and will adjust our plans as needed based on the latest information and projections,” he said. “We are as prepared as a health system can be for an influx of patients.”

Swensen said hospital officials hope residents will continue to stay at home, keep distance between each other and follow recommendations from the CDC and other organizations.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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