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Rand Paul Makes False Comments About COVID-19 During Virginia Event

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Sunday made multiple false comments about COVID-19 during an event in Virginia. Paul was stumping for Republican congressional candidate Nick Freitas.

According to the Daily Beast, Paul told the crowd how he would run a restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If I owned a restaurant, I’d have a whole wing for senior citizens or for anybody who is worried about getting sick, and I would say, ‘All my servers have already had it,'” Paul said. “If I had a cruise ship … everybody would have had the infection that works on the boat.”

Paul, who had previously tested positive for COVID-19, claimed he was now “immune” to the virus. 

“I’ve had it. I can’t get it again,” Paul said. “I can’t give it to you, and I can’t get it.”

Paul demonstrated a false understanding of how COVID-19 is spread. There have been multiple cases of former COVID-19 patients being reinfected. 

Paul also falsely claimed that cloth face masks do not work.

“I’m not telling you not to wear a mask,” Paul told rally-goers. “The cloth masks … I’m just telling you the truth, they don’t work. Ninety-seven percent of viruses go through a cloth mask.”

According to MIT Medical, there is steadily accumulating evidence that cloth face masks work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, by containing respiratory droplets. Masks, along with social distancing, are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Paul has frequently argued against shutdown policies to combat the pandemic, due to the economy. He has also clashed with the nation’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and criticized New York’s response to the pandemic.

On Twitter, Paul was ripped for his comments about restaurants as well as for his reputation.

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Coronavirus cases linked to live music event at Virginia restaurant, attendees asked to self-quarantine

A live music event at a restaurant in Henrico, Va., is linked to a “cluster” of cases of the novel coronavirus, local health officials said this week when encouraging residents who may have been exposed to self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 over the next 14 days. 

Anyone who attended the live music event on Oct. 9 at JJ’s Grille on Staples Mill Road may have been exposed to the coronavirus, said officials with the Henrico County Health Department (HCHD) in a news release posted to the Virginia Department of Health website. 

Dr. Danny Avula, the director of Richmond’s and Henrico’s health districts, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the restaurant voluntarily closed for a temporary period of time after the cases were identified. (iStock)

Dr. Danny Avula, the director of Richmond’s and Henrico’s health districts, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the restaurant voluntarily closed for a temporary period of time after the cases were identified. (iStock)

“While there have been no reported cases of exposure associated with live music or group events held on dates before October 9, HCHD is still evaluating the potential for further exposures and would recommend that individuals who have visited the establishment after October 9 monitor for symptoms and consider being tested for COVID-19 infection,” health officials said. 

Dr. Danny Avula, the director of Richmond’s and Henrico’s health districts, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the restaurant voluntarily closed for a temporary period of time after the cases were identified. 

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“In an office setting, you know everybody who works in the office and spent 15 minutes within 6 feet of an affected individual, but at these types of settings, it’s harder to do that,” Avula said of why the health district publically announced the outbreak, as a “lack of cooperation with contact tracing efforts and delays in testing” impacted health official’s efforts to notify everyone who could have been exposed, the newspaper reported. 

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Officials did not provide a number of people who have tested positive, but Avula said some 75 people, including staff and restaurant patrons, have been contacted. 

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE  CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

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Second COVID wave requires renewed vigilance in Virginia

Data from across the United States suggests the nation is on the cusp of another surge of coronavirus infections, the anticipated “second wave” that health officials have warned of since the pandemic began.

While Virginia has reduced most of its metrics since posting some worrisome numbers around Labor Day, this is a critical hour for the commonwealth, one that demands vigilance. We cannot afford to let our guard down now, despite the overwhelming desire to see things return to normal.

On Sept. 12, the seven-day average of new U.S. cases dipped below 35,000 for the first time since June. The all-important seven-day positivity rate declined to less than 5%, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, which is a useful metric for determining community spread.

Since then, however, both figures have been on a steady incline, driven largely by outbreaks in western states. According to the Washington Post last week, 20 states have in recent days posted their highest single-day numbers for new cases, leading to the United States recording more than 70,000 cases on Friday.

The good news, if anyone can consider it as such, is that the spike in new infections hasn’t translated into an increase in coronavirus deaths. The seven-day average hovers around 700, down from a high of 2,800 in late April.

Virginia is seeing many of these same trends, though the surge is not as severe here as it is in the West and Midwest. New cases are ticking upward across the commonwealth, and the seven-day positivity rate hovers around 5%.

However, COVID-related hospitalizations are on the rise in Virginia, which is cause for concern. Remember the social distancing guidelines and other recommendations were implemented to protect the health-care system from being overrun by infections, so officials will be monitoring that data closely.

When Gov. Ralph Northam spoke at a press conference last week, his first appearance since he and his wife tested positive for the virus, he emphasized those safety guidelines and their effectiveness in slowing the spread of infection.

These include wearing a facemask around other people and when indoors, maintaining social distance from others in the community, avoiding large gatherings and frequent hand washing. None of these alone is a magic bullet to stop the spread of coronavirus, but together they represent the best way to insulate yourself from illness.

The governor also urged Virginians to get a flu shot, which is an important message as the flu season ramps up. Health officials worry that a surge in coronavirus cases coupled with the hospitalizations associated with an average flu season could stretch the limits of hospital capacity.

Another fear: As the daylight grows shorter and the weather turns colder, people will be indoors more, even in our relatively mild climate. And as the pandemic drags on, the temptation will grow to cut corners on many of the protocols which helped manage the virus in recent months.

Halloween is days away, which has some officials preaching caution, while Thanksgiving, Christmas

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Coronavirus shifts into growth mode throughout Virginia

If you’re watching the coronavirus pandemic by the numbers for signs of improvement, you could get whiplash from one week to the next.

Coming off a brief period in which no health district was surging in new infections, Virginia’s caseload appeared to be receding while other states across the country were headed down the opposite path.

Now all but the northern part of the state is having an upward trajectory, based on data collected by the Virginia Department of Health. In Hampton Roads, slow growth was happening in Hampton, on the peninsula and in Western Tidewater.

Fresh off his own mild bout of the coronavirus, Gov. Ralph Northam returned to public business last week, with a reminder to Virginians to stay vigilant. At a press briefing Tuesday, he urged residents to continue wearing masks around other people, washing hands and avoiding crowds where people are closer than six feet apart.

“Now is not a time to get complacent,” Northam said.

Public health officials worry that as colder weather takes hold and the days get shorter, outdoor socializing will become more difficult and people will seek activities indoors.

“It’s going to feel hard to keep doing the right things, but I know that we can stay strong and get through this winter, continuing to make the right choices,” he said.

If the current trend continues, it could mean a peak in cases the week before Thanksgiving, according to a new analysis by The University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute, which is partnering with the health department to offer data-based COVID-19 projections.

But public health experts caution that these predictions are always changing with new information, and even slight differences in people’s behavior could alter the course of the pandemic.

In Hampton Roads, 16 people died last week, a 30% decline from the death tally reported the week prior. Of those fatalities, six were in Virginia Beach; two each were in Norfolk, Hampton and Isle of Wight; and one each was in Portsmouth, Gloucester, Chesapeake and Franklin.

As of Friday, there had been a total of 154,126 confirmed cases in Virginia and 3,408 deaths. Over the previous two weeks, nasal swab tests have come back positive at a rate of 4.8%. About 2.3 million tests have been given statewide.

The United States’ case tally rose to 8 million last week with 217,800 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the world, nearly 1.1 million have died of the virus, and there have been 39 million cases.

The statewide weekly incidence of the virus rose from 9.8 out of 100,000 people to 12 out of 100,000 people, according to Virginia public health officials, though it remains below the national average, which currently sits at 19.6. The incidence rate is a measure of the frequency that a new illness occurs in a community over a period of time.

During the past week, Virginia Beach had the most new cases, with another 269 confirmed positive, according to the state

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How one Virginia doctor’s coronavirus infection led to 25 people in quarantine

A doctor in training who wasn’t feeling well went into work.

The attending physician who supervised the Eastern Virginia Medical School resident sent the new doctor home. A little later, the doctor started to feel better and went to a barbecue with about 25 people.

The next day, when that doctor returned to work, another supervisor noticed the resident wasn’t well and sent the employee home. But that didn’t stop the doctor from going to a wedding of about 75 guests.

When the doctor’s condition worsened, the resident finally reported to the health center and got tested for the coronavirus. The nasal swab sample came back positive, which triggered a series of contact-tracing interviews to determine who might have been exposed.

EVMS leaders say the incident, which happened in July during a surge in Hampton Roads, is an example of the cascading effect one person’s infection can have, and the daunting task public health officials, institutions and employers face in trying to contain the disease from spreading further.

It also highlights the risk health professionals face in transmitting COVID-19 in clinical settings. The school recently used the story to emphasize to its students, staff and faculty the importance of wearing masks and social distancing on and off campus.

“That one individual’s behavior had about five different points where a different decision could have been made,” said Donald Combs, vice president and dean of the School of Health Professions at EVMS.

The doctor-in-training was in touch with about 100 different people, 25 of whom met the criteria for close contact and had to be put in quarantine for two weeks. Combs put it another way: That’s the equivalent of one full-time physician missing a year of work, he said.

Health departments use case investigations and so-called “contact tracing” as tools to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. People who work as disease detectives interview sick people about their whereabouts and try to reach as many people as they can who could have been infected. Then, they give them tips on how to get tested and stop passing it on to others.

Virginia contact tracers were in touch with about 81% of cases within 24 hours of the diagnosis last week, according to Virginia Department of Health data, though the goal is to reach everyone. Close to 8,500 people are under public health monitoring based on those investigations.

Close contact is usually defined as being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes or having exposure to the person’s coughs, sneezes or kisses while they were infectious. Research shows that a person’s contagious period could range from one to two days before a person noticed symptoms or tested positive to seven or eight days after. For mild cases of the coronavirus, the CDC is recommending that patients isolate for 10 days after their symptoms started.

For years, the state health department has conducted case investigations for other infectious diseases, like measles and tuberculosis. But the

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Southwest Virginia Coronavirus Hospitalizations Climb Past NoVA

VIRGINIA — Southwest Virginia has surpassed population centers in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater area in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Statewide, cumulative hospitalizations stood at 11,831 as of Saturday, while current patient numbers totaled 993, according to the Virginia Department of Health. That includes 218 hospitalizations in the state’s southwest region, compared to 216 in the northern region and 187 in the eastern region. The central region led the state with 238 hospitalizations on Saturday and the northwest region had the fewest hospitalizations at 134.

The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations in the southwest region has grown from 161.7 a month ago on Sept. 17 to an average of 204.6 hospitalizations on Saturday. In Northern Virginia, the seven-day moving average of hospitalizations has dropped from 237.7 on Sept. 17 to 221.7 on Oct. 17.

Southwest Virginia also has seen a growing number of positive coronavirus cases since July 1. The region was reporting a seven-day moving average of 79.6 positive cases on July 1 compared to an average of 292.4 on Oct. 17.

The VDH reported 1,114 additional coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the cumulative total to 165,238 cases. Saturday’s new cases included 348 in the southwest region, 273 in the central region, 216 in the northern region, 152 in the eastern region, and 125 in the northwest region.

Health officials had viewed the rise in cases in southwest Virginia since August as predominantly student-related, with students at Virginia Tech, Radford University and other colleges returning to school.

But an increase in hospitalizations in southwest Virginia may indicate the disease is spreading to older populations in the region.

At a news conference last month, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the state needs to keep an eye on the southwest region due to its high positivity rate. “Since Southwest Virginia has fewer people and fewer hospitals with fewer ICU beds and capabilities, this continues to be concerning to us,” the governor said at the time.

The latest statewide seven-day average is 4.9 percent on Oct. 13, with the southwest region still far above the rest of the state at a 7.2 percent average. The rest of the state is in the 4-percent range: central region at 4.7 percent, eastern region at 4.5 percent, northwest region at 4.3 percent and northern region at 4.1 percent.

According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, there are 100 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 219 in the intensive care units. Ventilator use among all hospital patients is at 23 percent of capacity as of Friday, while ICU occupancy stands at 82 percent. No hospitals are reporting difficulty obtaining personal protective equipment or other medical supplies in the next 72 hours.

As for the positive rate of PCR tests, the latest statewide seven-day average is 4.9 percent on Oct. 13. Regions in the 4-percent range are the central region (4.7 percent), eastern region (4.5 percent), northwest region (4.3 percent) and northern region (4.1 percent). The southwest region’s average is 7.2 percent.

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