Alexandria, VA

Exactly one week after its first, Alexandria now has a second coronavirus fatality.

The city announced in a daily update that 16 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Alexandria and one additional fatality, bringing to the total number of cases to 241, including both fatalities.

The update also included a reminder that the increase in confirmed cases was likely due to a combination of additional testing capacity and an increase in community transmission.

“It is essential for all community members to stay home as much as possible, even if they don’t have a diagnosed illness,” the city said.

The Alexandria Harmonizers, a barbershop chorus based in Alexandria, said in a post on Facebook that local barbershop singer Brian R. Miller had died due to complications from COVID-19. The comments were full of locals who knew him, with one describing him as “an extraordinary person and friend.”

“Words cannot express our grief, but we will always remember Brian as a bright and shiny example to the world for all to emulate,” the Harmonizers said. “You will be sorely missed Brian and we will always have a place on the risers for you.”

The Alexandria Health Department said in the press release that it is not disclosing details of the cases or fatalities “unless there is a public health need to do so.”

“We do not provide details of individual patient cases beyond what is necessary to protect other people’s health,” said Alexandria Health Director Dr. Stephen Haering. “A single data point, such as a patient’s age or gender, does not help the community draw conclusions about or prevent the spread of COVID-19. Even seemingly innocuous attributes like age and gender can help identify patients when combined with other information, and it is not practical to determine the potential privacy impacts on a case-by-case basis.”

Haering said identifying patient attributes had been a necessity in some circumstances, like those who were potentially exposed at Immanuel Chapel and Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub.

“Our policy, while perhaps frustrating to the news media and some members of the public, is the most consistent approach to protecting the privacy of patients and their families while also protecting the public,” Haering said. “We absolutely want to provide the public with aggregate information beyond the number of confirmed cases and fatalities, including groupings of cases by age and gender. Additional data analysis can be used to build models and really understand how this disease is affecting our community.”

However, Haering said this requires additional epidemiologists — the staff who have the necessary training and skills to provide trusted and reliable data analysis.

“We are pursuing every option to bring new staff on-board, but there is no quick fix,” Haering said. “AHD will not sacrifice accuracy of information for speed of delivery. Our ability to respond with both the accuracy and the speed we all want is markedly hampered by our current lack of staffing.”

Mayor Justin Wilson also noted in a Facebook post that Virginia’s newest modeling highlighted the impact of social distancing on the spread of the virus.

‪Today the Governor of Virginia released new modeling from University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute showing that…

Posted by Justin Wilson on Monday, April 13, 2020

The full breakdown of the spread so far:

The press release also included the following health information:

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are coughing, fever of over 100.4 F, and shortness of breath. Use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker to review your symptoms. If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, call your healthcare provider to ask whether you should come for an exam or test before visiting in person. Most people who get COVID-19 recover on their own at home and do not need testing or treatment. Anyone with symptoms of respiratory illness should isolate themselves; avoid contact with other people; wash their hands frequently; and disinfect surfaces regularly.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and believe you’ve been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Information Line at 703.746.4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Alexandria Health Department does not provide COVID-19 diagnosis or testing. If you need a letter about your health status, contact your healthcare provider. If AHD has contacted you directly for active monitoring or quarantine, AHD can provide a letter for your employer clearing you to return to work once that is complete.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive, follow these steps to protect your neighbors and loved ones from infection.

Protect Yourself and Others, Especially Vulnerable Community Members

  • Wash Your Hands. Rub hands together with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use Hand Sanitizer. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol as you would wash your hands, rubbing them together for 20 seconds.
  • Don’t Touch Your Face. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay Home. If you are feeling sick, stay home. If you are well, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Use Your Elbow. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. Alternatively, cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands.
  • Disinfect Surfaces. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Manage Stress. The CDC recommends taking breaks from exposure to the news; take deep breaths or meditate; try to eat healthy; get sleep or rest; make time to do activities you enjoy; and connect with others to share your feelings.

James Cullum and Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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