VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach couple has tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus, marking the first time cases of the virus have been reported in Hampton Roads.
The Virginia Beach Health Department announced Tuesday afternoon that two residents tested “presumptive positive” for COVID-19, making them the sixth and seventh cases in Virginia. Another case was also reported in Loudoun County on Tuesday, bringing the total number of presumptive cases in Virginia up to 8 as of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We are aware that exposure for these two individuals are travel related,” said Virginia Beach Health Director Dr. Demetria Lindsay. “The Public Health Department is in close communication with the two travelers and their care providers, and is conducting a thorough investigation of potential exposures. The two individuals are in stable condition and remain in isolation at this time.”
The couple, who wish to remain anonymous, told 10 On Your Side on Tuesday that health officials confirmed results came back positive after they were tested on Sunday in Virginia Beach. The two new cases have yet to be officially confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.
“I think it was going to be a shock to us if it came back negative, but at the same time when you finally get that official word you’re like ‘OK, now what do we do?'” the wife asked. “It is going to be interesting because they are going to guide us through requirements that they are going to expect from us. We are doing everything we can just to stay quarantined so that’s not an issue.”
The couple says they do not plan to leave their home.
“We don’t know how long we are are going to be sick,” she said. “How long do we have to stay away from everyone? What’s the worst case scenario in this whole deal.”
The husband and wife flew back from Egypt on Thursday and stayed the night in a Dulles airport. The next day they drove from D.C. directly to the Sentara Leigh Hospital.
Sentara Healthcare released this statement Tuesday afternoon:
We can confirm that Sentara Healthcare has seen patients who tested positive for COVID-19. We are working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC to ensure they are receiving coordinated follow up and monitoring. Out of an abundance of caution we are proactively communicating with any individual who may have had potential exposure to the patients while at our hospital. We have a dedicated system task force monitoring this evolving issue and providing the latest guidance to our clinical teams and our community. We are following our infection protection protocols to ensure everyone’s safety. Our hospitals remain open and ready to provide care. We will keep our communities informed as the situation progresses.
The couple tells 10 On Your Side it has already had one conference call with doctors and are expecting another ‘extensive’ conversation.
“They want to know our flight number and our seats,” the wife added.
She says doctors want to know everyone they came in contact with.
“I think this is going to spread, because I think there are a lot of people like us that they didn’t identify and contaminated other people,” said the husband.
The couple says they contracted the virus while on a cruise in Egypt and originally thought it might have just been the cold or flu.
“Then I started thinking ‘What if this is the coronavirus?’” the wife told 10 On Your Side. “I don’t want to spread it to anyone. I don’t want to be around other people.” They later learned via email from their travel company there was an exposure on their cruise ship, and that 45 others on board had tested positive for coronavirus, including a man from Northern Virginia.
“We were shocked,” she said. “That’s when we said we have got to be tested.”
The couple says they went to Sentara Leigh Hospital on Friday, but were told the hospital couldn’t test for coronavirus.
“It was almost like there was no protocol for this disease in the hospital … It just amazed me the lack of guidance and any [procedures],” the husband said.
They were eventually sent home hours later after testing negative for the flu, and came back on Sunday to be tested for coronavirus.
Sentara officials say last week hospitals didn’t test for coronavirus, but that plan is changing by the hour.
“For a period of time, the CDC was the only place to get testing,” Bundy added. “Then we were able to do testing at the [Virginia] Department of Health. Now we can do testing though LabCorp and hopefully by the end to the week hospitals will be able to do testing in-house.”
The husband and wife say they’re still dealing with complications from the virus, including a bad cough. They’re recovering, but are worried about who they may have spread the virus to.
“I thought why us,” the wife asked? “How in the world did this happen to us? We did not go to one of the high risk areas and so when we left on the trip we were not one bit concerned.”
The news comes as North Carolina has issued a state of emergency to prevent the spread of the virus. North Carolina has seven presumptive positive cases as of Tuesday, including five from patients who traveled to Boston in late February to attend a BioGen conference. All patients are in isolation at their homes, officials said.
The Virginia Department of Health has activated a public information line, 877-ASK-VDH3, for questions from residents about the novel coronavirus.
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