novel coronavirus

An electron microscope photo from the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows the novel coronavirus, in yellow, emerging from the surface of cells (in gray) cultured in a laboratory. The virus causes COVID-19 disease. The sample was isolated from a patient in the United States.

A person who works in Culpeper County, but lives elsewhere, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District announced Thursday evening.

Health Department staff will contact people identified as the individual’s close contacts, and ask them to self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days, the district said.

As part of this process, Health Department staff members will be conducting interviews in Culpeper, said Bill Ooten, director of the Culpeper County Office of Emergency Services.

To protect patient confidentiality, authorities won’t release any further information about the person.

The person’s identity is protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Culpeper case has been included in the statewide case count at

“As we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 throughout the commonwealth, it is critical that people follow the public health guidelines on social distancing and good hygiene,” Dr. Wade Kartchner, the health district’s director, said in a statement. “Social distancing is one of the most effective strategies in lessening the impact of this pandemic.”

People should avoid social gatherings of more than 10 individuals, Kartchner said.

If you are 65 years or older, or have a serious chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, immune compromise), you should seriously consider staying at home, he said.

“We all have a responsibility and duty to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our community from this novel coronavirus,” Kartchner said.

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms.

But in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among older people or people with chronic medical conditions, the district said.

The disease’s symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, the district said.

To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District encourages these effective behaviors:

— Stay home when you are sick.

— Avoid contact with sick people.

— Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

— Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

— Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

— If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor.

As the COVID-19 outbreak expands, these recommendations may change.

The Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District said it is working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide the best possible guidance for the community.

For general questions about COVID-19, residents can call the RRHD COVID-19 Hotline at 540-316-6302. For the latest on COVID-19, visit

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