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Two COVID-19 cases reported in Lee County

Staff reports • Mar 21, 2020 at 4:46 PM

LENOWISCO Health District officials have reported the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases in far Southwest Virginia.

At least one local elected board is also changing its public meeting to a livestream remote meeting due to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Health District Director Sue Cantrell on Saturday confirmed two cases in Lee County. One of the two (a male and female, both in their 50s) contracted it from the other through household contact. Officials said that the two have avoided contacts with community members and maintained strict isolation since the first person showed symptoms.

No at-risk community contacts from the two persons have occurred.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, which is expected to include the cases on its website Sunday, the Lee County infections mark the westernmost instances of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Virginia. Franklin and Botetourt counties marked the furthest spread west before Saturday’s announcement, according to VDH’s coronavirus tracker at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/.

According to the VDH website, 2,790 of Virginia’s 8.54 million residents have been tested as of Saturday, and 152 cases confirmed before the Lee County cases. Twenty-five people have been hospitalized, according to the tracker, and two deaths have been reported.

Other recent cases have been reported in Sullivan and Washington counties in Tennessee.

Cantrell said people across the district need to follow state guidelines on good hygiene and social distancing in the wake of Gov. Ralph Northam’s March 13 emergency declaration.

“Social distancing is one of the most effective strategies in lessening the impact of this pandemic,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell recommended that everyone follow state Department of Health recommendations including:

— Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.

— Avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth.

— Covering one’s mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve — not hands — when coughing or sneezing.

— Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

— Staying home when sick.

— Avoiding contact with sick people.

— If experiencing symptoms, call one’s doctor.

On Friday, Norton City Schools staff announced that a planned Monday School Board budget workshop and regular meeting will be limited to the five board members, Superintendent Gina Wohlford and three other staff members.

School Board Clerk Becke Elkins cited federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines recommending people avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for the restriction.

Elkins said the meeting will be livestreamed via the Norton City Schools YouTube channel, and notice of the changes will be posted on the division’s website, www.nortoncityschools.org. The budget workshop starts at 6 p.m. and the regular meeting at 6:45 p.m.

The board agenda is available at www.nortoncityschools.org. Along with regular business, the board plans to go into closed session to discuss:

— One specific employee.

— Appointment of a football coach, volunteer assistant coach for girls’ tennis, a custodian, a substitute teacher and a speech language pathologist.

— Two homeschool requests.

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