Less than 24 hours after the first resident of Patrick County died of COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health has announced a second.

A release from VDH on Thursday morning reported that two residents of Patrick who were ill with COVID-19 have died.

VDH in its release said it would disclose no further information about the patients in order to protect their privacy and “out of respect for the departed and their families.”

Patrick County has had 39 cases of COVID-19, and a couple of weeks ago had its first two hospitalized cases. It’s unknown whether these who died were those cases.

“Sadly, we have experienced the first COVID-19-related fatalities among residents of Patrick County,” Dr. Kerry Gateley, director of the West Piedmont Health District, said in the release. “On behalf of all of us at VDH, I extend sincere condolences to these persons’ friends and loved ones.

“Unfortunately, we’ve learned that those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of serious complications from COVID-19. Everyone, especially at-risk individuals, are strongly advised to take steps to minimize contact with others who are ill, practice social distancing and stay at home as much as possible.”

The release reminded that in some patients, especially those at-risk patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death. That is particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, heart or lung disease or compromised immune systems.

Patrick County, one of the last counties in the state to have a positive test for the novel coronavirus, and the first death was announced on Wednesday.

Nancy Bell, spokesperson for the West Piedmont Health District, confirmed the death but could not provide details about the person other than residence in Patrick County. A spokesperson for Sovah Health-Martinsville did not respond immediately to a query about a death there.

“With Patrick County folks, they either come to Martinsville or Mount Airy N.C., for hospital care —, so it gets tricky,” Bell said in an email. “We report by where a person lives, so there is often lag time getting deaths reported.

“Under those circumstances, I cannot answer the question of whether the person was hospitalized for a long time or died elsewhere.”

VDH’s data showed that Patrick County had 40 cases on Tuesday but was down to 39 on Wednesday, a fact that Bell could not explain, and she said she would check with state officials to see if there had been a data entry error.

Patrick County didn’t have its first case of COVID-19 until April 22 — when only five counties remained without one — and as of May 5 only had two cases.

Meanwhile, Henry County, which on Tuesday had reported its fourth death because of the virus, gained two more cases that Bell reported on Wednesday. They were both females, one in her 40s and one in her 50s.

VDH reported Thursday morning that there have been 232 positive cases in Henry County — all but two of those since May 1 — including 22 who were hospitalized and the four deaths.

Martinsville has 70 cases, with nine hospitalized and one death.

Franklin County, which is part of the West Piedmont district, has 53, with five hospitalized and one death.

The statewide trend in cases continues to be positive, but the total is approaching 60,000 (59,946 as of Thursday morning), and hospitalizations were nearly 6,000 (5,995). The number of deaths rose slightly to 1,675.

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