An electron microscope image from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, shot in February 2020, shows the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (in orange) emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the laboratory. The virus causes the COVID-19 disease. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S.

A hospitalized woman in her 80s has become the first person to die of COVID-19 in the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, the agency announced early Wednesday afternoon.

She had chronic medical conditions, and previously tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the district said in a statement. Public health workers had previously investigated her close contacts, the agency said.

She died of respiratory failure as a result of COVID-19, the health district said. It is not providing any additional information about the woman.

“This is a tragic loss and our hearts go out to her family and friends,” said Dr. Wade Kartchner, director of the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District. “This most recent death, along with the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases we are seeing, is a reminder that we all need to be diligent in doing our part to help slow the spread of virus in the community.”

As of April 1, the Virginia Department of Health earlier today reported there were 1,484 positive COVID-19 cases and 34 deaths from the virus in the commonwealth.

The first positive case of COVID-19 in Virginia was confirmed on March 7. On March 31, the Virginia Department of Health reported there were 1,250 positive cases.

The number of positive cases reached more than 1,000 on March 30 at 1,020. There were only 890 confirmed 890 positive cases on March 29, 739 positive cases on March 28, and 604 on March 27.

Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order on March 30 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The order is in effect until June 10.

The number of positive cases has increased each day because more testing is being done and the virus is being disseminated widely via community spread, Northam said last week in a press conference

Due to shortages, more testing and more personal protective equipment are greatly needed across Virginia, he said.

Most commonly, symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District said Wednesday.

Symptoms generally appear within 14 days of being exposed to a person infected with the virus. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

To decrease the potential for the virus to be transmitted, the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District recommends:

—Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based sanitizer only if soap and water is not available.

—Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

—Cover our mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Immediately throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.

—Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces.

—Practice social distancing by staying six feet or more away from others.

—If you are mildly sick with a fever, stay home unless you need medical care. Call your healthcare provider prior to going to their office.

—Avoid non-essential travel, public gatherings, particularly if you have chronic medical conditions at any age, pregnant, or are elderly.

—Call your healthcare provider if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you develop a fever, new or worsening cough.

For general questions about COVID-19, community members may call the RRHD COVID-19 Hotline at 540-316-6302.

For the latest on COVID-19, visit

This fatality has not yet been included in the statewide count kept by the Virginia Department of Health, the health district said. That count is updated daily with numbers recorded by 5 p.m. the evening before.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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