Chesterfield Health District
March 26, 2020
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — Dr. Alexander Samuel, Chesterfield Health District director, provides case status and other relevant updates for the Chesterfield Health District, which includes the counties of Chesterfield and Powhatan and the city of Colonial Heights. This segment will be periodically refreshed, as new information becomes available.
Board of Supervisors March 25 Meeting Presentations regarding Chesterfield and COVID-19
This excerpt video from the Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors meeting features reports from Dr. Samuel and Chesterfield Fire and EMS Chief Loy Senter about the current COVID-19 situation in the county.
Facebook Live Briefing with Chesterfield Fire and EMS Chief Loy Senter
On Wednesday, March 25 at 5:15 p.m., Chesterfield Health District Director Dr. Alexander Samuel and Chesterfield County Fire and EMS Chief Loy Senter held a Facebook Live briefing to discuss the Chesterfield Health District’s, which includes the counties of Chesterfield and Powhatan and the City of Colonial Heights, and Chesterfield County Government’s response to the coronavirus known as COVID-19.
Information from March 19, 2020 Facebook Live Briefing
On Thursday, March 19, Chesterfield Fire and EMS Chief Loy Senter hosted a Facebook Live briefing regarding the Chesterfield County Government’s response to COVID-19. Chesterfield Health District Director Dr. Alexander Samuel was not present the Facebook Live, but questions him to answer were gather from that event. All responses to the following questions are from Dr. Samuel, which have been converted into a question and answer format. Please note, case status numbers are accurate as of Thursday, March 19.
Q: Without violating any HIPAA regulations, can you say in which parts of the county the cases have been reported (northern Chesterfield, southern Chesterfield, etc.)?
Dr. Samuel: “In order to protect patient confidentiality, VDH typically reports cases for most diseases at the district level (Chesterfield Health District is comprised of Chesterfield County, Powhatan County and the City of Colonial Heights). This has been relaxed to report COVID-19 cases at the county level to ensure that localities are informed about the status of their communities as this could have implications on public health action and response.”
Q: What is the status of testing availability in Chesterfield through the Virginia Department of Health and through private labs and through hospitals? Does this include coordination by VDH to run pop-up test centers or partnering with hospitals? How are all these entities working together to increase testing for residents in Chesterfield?
Dr. Samuel: “Testing is still a challenge across the state. The capacity to run tests is increasing as private labs are getting into the game, though capacity is still far from ideal. One of the biggest challenges we’re currently facing is a shortage of testing supplies, including swabs and reagents as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) for those collecting specimens. Health departments don’t provide testing; they facilitate access to testing at the state lab for individuals in high-risk situations (often very sick and hospitalized) and therefore use somewhat narrow testing criteria. Physicians’ offices and hospitals can test through private labs.”
Q: Of the current positive cases, are the Chesterfield cases considered an outbreak? Will the status of these cases continue to be updated on the Chesterfield Health District website?
Dr. Samuel: “The Chesterfield COVID-19 cases are part of an increase in cases noted statewide and are not limited to Chesterfield County alone. Consequently, they are part of a state-wide outbreak, which is part of a global pandemic. The number of cases in the county, including those hospitalized, are updated daily on the VDH coronavirus website." http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/
Q: What, if anything, is Chesterfield doing to increase social distancing at grocery stores and big box stores?
Dr. Samuel: “The Governor has instituted measures to increase social distancing in places accessible by the public.”
Q: What does it mean for us as the number of people in China recover? Are they still ill months on? Will they never get well? Why does no one address these high mystery numbers?
Dr. Samuel: “It’s difficult to speak to data provided by another country, so I can’t provide definitive answers. It could be that they only have data for those who have recovered who can also be easily monitored, like being released from the hospital or who had completed follow-up testing for some reason. It’s possible that there are people who tested positive who were simply lost to follow-up and therefore couldn’t be officially designated as recovered. Again, the information regarding ’recovered’ status could be independently defined by each reporting country.”
Q: Can animals get the virus?
Dr. Samuel: “COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus, which means it jumped to humans from an animal source. Since we know so little about the virus, people who are ill with COVID-19 are asked to restrict contact with pets like dogs and cats in case the virus can be transmitted from a person to an animal. There doesn’t appear to be much evidence of this happening based on experience in places like China. Pet owners who become sick with COVID-19 are advised to have someone else take care of their pets while they are ill or to wash their hands thoroughly before and after feeding their pets. More information about this is available on the CDC website." https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/animals.html
Q: Has there been any testing for ozone bombs or generators, and their effects on the virus?
Dr. Samuel: “Uncertain. We’re unaware of the items mentioned being used as public health interventions.”
Q: Are there talks of school not resuming in the buildings until August or September?
Tim Bullis, CCPS Spokesman: “We will follow the guidance of the Virginia Department of Education and the Governor. It would be purely speculative to try to respond to that at this point, given the frequency with which information and data is changing. Sorry I don’t have a better answer.” (NOTE: Governor Ralph Northam issued an executive order during a March 23 press conference that all schools in the state will be closed indefinitely for the remainder of the school year, and that all SOL standardized tests have been canceled by order from the U.S. Department of Education. Officials with Chesterfield County Public Schools will be more forthcoming in the coming weeks about procedures and/or effects these closures and SOL cancellations will have in the 2020-2021 school year.)
Q: What about all daycares? Will they close?
Dr. Samuel: “Social distancing requirements will likely result in daycares having to close.”
Q: How many cases are in Chesterfield County? What are the ages of the people and do you know how they got it?
Dr. Samuel: “As of this writing, there are eight COVID-19 cases in Chesterfield County (NOTE: As of 3/23 that number is now nine). Ages range from someone in their 40s to someone in their 80s, with the average age of cases in the 50s. We conduct thorough investigations on potential contact sources for each case. We have been unable to determine how several of these cases became ill."
Q: Who is taking a leadership role to increase testing in Chesterfield? Who is looking at the multiple ways testing can take place in our county?
Dr. Samuel: “The capacity to conduct testing on samples is slowly improving. The primary challenge seems to be collecting the samples for a variety of reasons, including supply issues and sometimes even reluctance on the part of some practices to conduct testing, which are often legitimate like having concerns about staff safety. The issue is being addressed through regional efforts through health care coalitions to improve the flow of supplies and public health efforts to locate testing sites.”
Q: Will the CDC be confirming all tests reported positive by local labs and will it be updated on the state site?
Dr. Samuel: “Test results are coming from the state lab (Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services) as well as private labs like LabCorp and Quest. These results are considered final and actionable.”
Cases #3 & #4:
Chesterfield Health District Reports Cases of COVID-19
The Chesterfield Health Department has reported its third and fourth cases of COVID-19 in the county. The positive cases include a woman in her 60s and a man in his 80s with currently no apparent contact links between the two. Both are hospitalized with ongoing case investigations. To protect patient privacy, the health district will provide no further information about these patients. These cases are included in the statewide count of cases March 17 at www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.
Chesterfield Health District Confirms Second COVID-19 Case
The Chesterfield Health Department has reported its second case of COVID-19 in the county. The positive case is a woman in her 50s and the investigation is on-going. She is currently under voluntary quarantine at home. The Chesterfield Health Department was notified on March 14 of the positive test results for COVID-19. To protect patient privacy, the health district will provide no further information about the patient. This case is included in the statewide count of cases March 16 at www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.