The Virginia Department of Health's Mount Rogers Health District has not confirmed the location of a COVID-19-related fatality reported earlier this week. Public health officials with the district have said they will not disclose the locations of deaths related to the illness and will not remove fatalities or recoveries from its online tally. This story has been updated to reflect this information.


Original Story:

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has confirmed that a second Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute employee has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We cannot reveal any further details about the staff members, but they are in our thoughts and we hope for a full recovery as quickly as possible,” said VDBHDS spokesperson Meghan McGuire.

The first case in the county was reported earlier this week at the Marion facility. As of Wednesday, those were the only two cases of the illness reported in Smyth County.

Following the second diagnosis of the illness at the facility, all SWVMHI staff who have direct patient care were issued a N95 facemask.

SWVMHI staff is working closely with the local health department and are currently identifying and contacting individuals who were in close proximity so they can monitor their symptoms.

McGuire said no patients at the facility have had major symptoms, but hospital staff are working to prevent possible cases and planning what to do should there be one. The hospital is also preparing for how to isolate individuals should there be a positive case among patients, she said.

To minimize the risk of spread, the facility is following Centers for Disease Control guidelines for healthcare organizations by restricting visitation policies, increasing infection control measures and increasing social distancing practices with staff and patients.

Additionally, the facility is arranging for community-based services for patients who can safely be discharged, since living in a congregation setting can increase the risk of virus exposure.

McGuire added that the VDBHDS is doing everything they can to procure additional Personal Protective Equipment, like gloves, masks, and gowns. She noted that it is an extreme challenge with the national shortage of PPE.

In the Mount Rogers Health District, three cases of the illness have also been reported in Washington County, with two cases each reported in Wythe County and the City of Galax, and one each in Carroll County and the City of Bristol.

The health district reported its first death related to the illness earlier this week, but will not disclose the location of the fatality.

Grayson and Bland counties remain the only two localities in the health district with no confirmed cases of the illness.

The Mount Rogers Health District is no longer reporting new cases to the media unless a significant factor is involved. State numbers are updated daily on VDH’s website at


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