Local leaders answer coronavirus questions, concerns at EVMS panel

Posted at 10:51 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 14:13:19-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Local leaders met inside Lester Hall at Eastern Virginia Medical School for a panel discussion on the coronavirus.

“Currently, we have no cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Virginia,” said District Director for the Norfolk and Virginia Beach Departments of Public Health, Dr. Demetria Lindsay.

But she says that will likely change.

“There is a high likelihood that we will see a community-level spread in our country,” said Dr. Lindsay.

And that also goes for the state of Virginia.

Right now, almost 100 people are being monitored for the virus in the state. “Our efforts right now is to slow and control transmission as long as possible until we have treatment and resources available,” said Dr. Lindsay.

At Wednesday night's discussion, “Coronavirus (COVID-19): Don’t Let Misconceptions Eclipse The Truth,” panelists gave attendees some background information, debunked myths associated with the virus and answered questions.

Jami Hinton is concerned about upcoming festivals like Something in the Water.

“I’ve actually purchased my ticket, and I am concerned with the amount of people that will be traveling to the area,” she adds.

Dr. Lindsay says they don’t believe they are at the point where they need to cancel any social events.

“We are meeting and planning on a regular basis at a state level, looking at what interventions would need to be taken in the event of community-level transmission.”

Even though the virus hasn’t hit Virginia, it’s impacting business at the ports.

"The slowdown in shipping to and from China because of the coronavirus - that’s impacted the shipping volume," said Glenn Yap, Assistant Professor in the Master of Public Health department at EVMS.

He says it’s also affecting the agriculture industry here.

“The fact that the demand is down from China means that the prices have dropped for our farmers, and of course that’s a big hit for our farmers. So, the decrease in port activity can translate into lost jobs," he adds.

Leaders say even though the coronavirus is impacting business, the biggest threat in Virginia is still the flu.

We’ve had over 700 cases of flu deaths in Virginia this year. So, it’s out there and it’s very active,” said Dr. Lindsay.