Ballad Health announced at their Tuesday afternoon teleconference that the first patient has died due to COVID-19 in the health system. Ballad's CEO Alan Levine said that the patient was a male in his 70s with multiple pre-existing conditions. Ballad would not specify where the patient was from. Ballad officials did say that the death will be reported to the state health department.
The U.S. Department of Education has given Virginia permission to cancel federally mandated Standard of Learning tests during the 2019-2020 school year. The Superintendent of Public Education. James Lane, submitted the Commonwealth's waiver application on Friday after the Virginia Department of Education was informed by the federal agency. On Saturday, the federal department gave VDOE the green light to implement the waiver pending formal approval later this spring. The VDOE is exploring options for cancelling the administration of state-required SOL tests during the reconvened session of the General Assembly in April. James Lane has also announced that he is using his authority under Governor Ralph Northam's executive order 51 to ensure the high school seniors who were on track to earn a diploma later this spring are able to graduate.
A staff member at the Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion has tested positive for COVID-19. No further details on the employee can be released. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Development Services confirmed the positive case and that the institute is working the Virginia Department of Health. Also, as of March 14, the hospitals have been screening employees before each shift for COVID-19.
On Tuesday morning, the Virginia Department of Health reported that the state's number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus has increased to 1,250. There have been 27 deaths, 165 hospitalizations, and 13,401 people tested for the virus. In Southwest Virginia, there are two cases in Lee, Tazewell, and Washington County each, and one case each in Smyth County and the City of Bristol.
In Norheast Tennessee, city and county mayors are issuing safer at home orders. Hawkins County, Sullivan County, and the City of Johnson City's orders begin today and will run through Monday, April 6. Carter County, Washington County, and the City of Elizabethton's orders begin tomorrow, April 1, and will run through Tuesday, April 7. Tennessee law only allows mayors to announce a local state of emergency for a period of seven days, but they can extend it by a period of seven days at the end of each period.
Two employees at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport have been confirmed to have the coronavirus. The company's officials say that both employees have been away from work since March 17th and are currently receiving the appropriate medical care. Eastman says that the local public health department is in contact with other team members who worked closely with the affected employees. The company is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to take appropriate measures daily to ensure their team members are safe and operations are being run safely. Eastman also asks everyone in their surrounding community to keep demonstrating social distancing.
The Virginia Department of Health has updated the number of cases of the coronavirus in the state to 1,020. The VDH says that there have been 25 deaths, 136 hospitalizations, with 12,038 people having been tested. There are now 8 cases in Southwest Virginia with two cases in Lee, Tazewell, and Washington counties each, and one case each in Smyth County and the City of Bristol. One of the latest deaths from COVID-19 in the state occurred in the Mount Rogers Health District, which includes Washington County, Smyth County, Bland County, Wythe County, Carroll County, Galax County, Grayson County, and the City of Bristol. The health district says that the patient was a man in his 80's. He is the first local death related to COVID-19. The health district will not disclose where the man is from for privacy reasons.
Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced a stay-at-home order for the state on Monday afternoon. Everyone in the Commonwealth must stay at home unless they need essentials or essential services, like food, essential work or medical care. All schools and universities of higher education will be closed, as will all campgrounds and public beaches, excluding the need for exercise. Anyone with the ability to work remotely from home is encouraged to do so. Non-essential businesses are encouraged to follow the 10-person rule, and if they do not, they will be required to close. If any groups of 10 or more people are found congregating, especially in public areas, they can be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor. The governor also asked anyone who has traveled out of the state, particularly in virus hotspots, to self-quarantine.
A crash in Kingsport on Friday leaves two people dead. The Kingsport Police Department responded to a crash on West Stone Drive near Netherland Inn Road on Friday night. 28-year-old Jared C. White was killed when he failed to yield the right of way in his 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle and pulled from a private drive into the path of a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado, resulting in a collision. 33-year-old Lesley B. Seckler was riding on the motorcycle and was transported to an area hospital for treatment of serious incapacitating injuries but died at the hospital on Saturday afternoon. 37-year-old Flavio Gonzalez Cervantes was driving the Chevrolet pickup truck and was uninjured in the crash. All eastbound lanes of West Stone Drive remained closed for approximately four hours to allow for care and transportation of the injured, clearing of damaged vehicles and debris, and safe investigation of the crash. The KPD says the crash remains under investigation.
Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal single-vehicle crash in Dickenson County on Saturday afternoon. The VSP says that the crash happened at 3:04 p.m. Saturday on Route 631. A 2001 Isuzu Rodeo was headed east when it crossed the center line and ran off the left side of the road, where it hit an embankment and overturned. 48-year-old Michael S. Koller, of Coeburn, was transported to the Dickenson County Community Hospital, where he later died of his injuries. Koller was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from the car during the crash. The crash remains under investigation.