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U.S. Marine tests positive for first case of coronavirus in Virginia

This story has been updated.

A U.S. Marine at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, Virginia health officials said Saturday evening.

The Virginia Department of Health confirmed the first case of the novel coronavirus in Virginia and the first military case on U.S. soil in a news release.

The service member, who has not been identified, "recently returned from overseas, where he was on official business," Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said on Twitter.

Gov. Ralph Northam and cabinet officials have been briefed, according to the department.

"We are working closely with federal, military, and local partners to respond to a COVID-19 case at Ft. Belvoir," Northam tweeted Saturday evening, adding that the risk to the general population "remains low."

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner said in a joint statement that they’re carefully monitoring the case at Fort Belvoir and are “committed to doing everything we can to ensure the Commonwealth is getting the federal support it needs to respond.”

Officials at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and the Virginia Department of Health are working cooperatively, according to longstanding public health protocols, according to the release. The teams are in regular and close communication with federal, state, local and private sector partners.

The department says 39 people have been tested so far in the state, with 7 results pending. Public health officials caution that evidence has not been seen of COVID-19 spreading in Virginia.

The University of Virginia has posted information about precautions and plans, should a case arrive in the Charlottesville area, and has canceled outgoing study abroad trips for Spring Break, which began Saturday.

President Donald Trump has stated that he is not concerned at the increased proximity of confirmed cases to the White House, saying “we’ve done a great job,” according to The Associated Press.

The District of Columbia recorded its first case on Saturday. District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said testing at the public health lab of the D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences yielded its first presumptive positive coronavirus case, according to The Associated Press.

On Friday, the political group AIPAC said two people who attended its Washington conference this past week had tested positive for coronavirus.

As of Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested 1,583 people for the coronavirus since January. More than 300 cases have been confirmed within the U.S., including in New York, Washington state and California, and 19 people have died nationally.

Public health officials remind people in Virginia and on military installations to take precautions:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.


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