BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Karen Shelton, the Mount Rogers Health District Director, said Thursday the coronavirus risk in Southwest Virginia is low. She also addressed whether anyone is being tested for coronavirus in her district.
“We have no persons under investigation at this time,” she said.
The Mount Rogers Health District makes up the cities of Bristol, VA and Galax, as well as Washington, Smyth, Wythe, Bland, Grayson and Carroll counties.
The State of Virginia has had 8 people investigated for the coronavirus. Six of those have tested negative and two are pending test results. Those two people are said to be in the southwestern and northern part of the state.
Mount Rogers is working with health care providers and municipalities to monitor the virus. Shelton said emergency plans are in place should this become a concern locally.
“There are further lab tests being developed and soon Virginia will be able to test this in state,” said Shelton. “There are many other preparations being done, a vaccine is being made.”
Shelton said this new strain of coronavirus, or ‘COVID19,’ which was discovered in China in December of 2019, is spread by respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing, similar to the flu. Symptoms can be mild or severe and include a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Shelton said there also have been some exposed to the virus who have not shown symptoms. Some have even caused death.
There are at least 60 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States. Health officials expect that number will keep increasing in the U.S., as well as around the globe.
There are now more than 80,000 cases across the world and they are on every continent except Antarctica.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner said he recently wrote to the Trump Administration asking them to direct public health funds to combat the virus.
This week, the Trump Administration asked Congress for $2.5 billion dollars in order to contain the coronavirus.
“I am reviewing this request, but frankly, based upon the initial feedback of public health experts, I am concerned that the Administration’s response to date may not be aggressive enough to effectively combat the virus,” said Warner. “I’m also concerned that we will need a more robust response, particularly in funding, if we are going to be fully prepared.”
In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee said the best thing the state can do is be prepared.
“Dr. Piercey is developing a coordinated response with TEMA and our emergency preparedness teams,” said Lee.
Gov. Lee said these emergency teams will be issuing public statements if the first case arrives in Tennessee.