RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that state officials are executing longstanding public health plans in response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
According to a statement from Northam's office, Virginia currently has no confirmed cases of the virus.
“The Commonwealth is taking this public health issue seriously, and we have a plan in place to respond to COVID-19,” Northam said. “The Virginia Department of Health has some of the country’s leading public health experts on its team, with deep experience guiding public health emergency responses, and I have great confidence in their ability to guide Virginia in this situation.”
Public health and safety experts in the state established an Incident Management Team in January shortly after scientists first identified the virus in Asia. The team, which is in regular and close communication with the Virginia government and private sector partners, is leading the Commonwealth's planning and response.
Northam's office announced that potential cases of COVID-19 will be tested at Virginia's Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services instead of the Atlanta, Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control, allowing for test results within a few hours.
Although COVID-19 is not spreading in Virginia and the risk here is low, officials said Virginians can take precautions to prevent the potential spread of this disease:
- 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.
Officials also warned against misinformation and the stigmatization of certain populations, particularly Asian Americans and individuals of Asian descent.