Coronavirus diagnosed at another Virginia nursing home


(Photo: courtesy MGN)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia health officials on Thursday confirmed at least the second case of a person infected with the new coronavirus in an assisted living facility, this one in the Washington suburbs.

Elderly people, especially those with underlying health conditions are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus that has upended daily life around the world. About half of the approximately 150 deaths in the U.S. have been in Washington state, where dozens in a suburban Seattle nursing home have died.

The Fairfax County Health Department reported Thursday morning that a resident of The Kensington Falls Church, an assisted living and memory care facility, tested positive. The man has been in isolation since he developed symptoms of respiratory illness Saturday, a statement said.

“When COVID-19 occurs in a setting where there are many older people with underlying health conditions, we are concerned,” Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu said in a statement. “We’ll be working very closely with the facility over the coming days to protect other residents and staff and prevent further spread.”

The news comes after state health officials on Tuesday announced the first known instance of someone at a long-term care facility testing positive for the virus. Westminster Canterbury Richmond said that patient was being treated at a hospital after returning from travel to Florida.

The Falls Church facility said in a statement Thursday that seven other residents displayed respiratory symptoms, but test results Wednesday showed they do not have the virus.

Two staff members are awaiting test results, and the facility has implemented additional precautions, including monitoring residents and team members for symptoms, sanitizing and limiting visitors, the statement said.

A spokeswoman for the facility declined to answer questions from The Associated Press.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, like pneumonia. Virginia officials have asked anyone 65 or older or anyone with chronic health conditions to self-quarantine.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

The worldwide death toll crept toward 10,000 Thursday as the total number of infections topped 220,000, including nearly 85,000 people who have recovered.

Across Virginia, which has 94 confirmed cases of the virus, according to the health department, residents continued to adjust to a new normal. The death toll in the state remained at two Thursday. Much of the state’s workforce has been encouraged to work from home, and schools and many businesses are closed.

Gov. Ralph Northam and other state officials were scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon to give updates on the state’s latest virus response.

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