Update: April 2, 12:47 p.m.
County spokesman Glen Barbour on Wednesday night said the county will now be providing updates on Loudoun County deaths due to COVID-19, including a general age range for the deceased.
That information can be found by clicking here and searching the "Deaths in Loudoun County" tab.
As of Thursday morning, the local death toll due to COVID-19 remained at two.
Original post: March 31, 12:22 p.m.
The Times-Mirror has had numerous inquiries as to why the general locations of local coronavirus cases aren't being released. Readers have reasoned that information could be important in determining whether there are “hot spots” for the virus across Loudoun. The Times-Mirror too has inquired about that information, but county officials have thus far not released updates on case counts or locations beyond the first few cases and the first death. Here's the back and forth between the Times-Mirror and county representatives on the matter.
Times-Mirror: Can you provide a general location or ZIP for all of Loudoun County's coronavirus cases? If not, why?
County Health Director David Goodfriend: “In general, the Health Department does not provide information on coronavirus cases, or any reportable disease, on less than a county level. This is because we believe that all geographic areas of Loudoun County currently are at risk of disease transmission. The Health Department conducts contact investigations and notifies any close contacts of a case of their specific risk. Individuals not specifically contacted by the Health Department have the same level of risk, which is driven by whether social distancing and self-protection is followed rather than where an individual lives.”
Times-Mirror: Can you provide a general age range for all of Loudoun County's coronavirus cases? If not, why?
Goodfriend: “No, this level of detail is not being provided. This type of detail does not change the guidance to the public. It is important to understand that due to severe limitations on testing, the age groups of those diagnosed with coronavirus are not a reflection on who actually has disease. Seniors are much more likely to have severe complications of infection so are much more likely to be tested than other groups. Consequently, the Health Department does not utilize this information and does not have it to share.”
Can you provide any underlying health issues for the people who died from coronavirus? If not, why?
Goodfriend: “No. Due to patient privacy, this information cannot be provided. What we can tell you is that, as identified by the CDC, the types of medical conditions that put an individual at high risk include:
-People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
-People who have serious heart conditions
-People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
-People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk."
Additionally, Loudoun County spokesman Glen Barbour provided this statement as to what information the county is releasing.
County spokesman Glen Barbour: "I appreciate that these practices can be confusing. It is important to note that it is a long standing practice by VDH and others to publish information at the beginning of an incident when details are novel or limited to just one or two cases. But, as time goes on, and more and more cases are identified, and news of a new case does not warrant any new action by members of the public, we will discontinue such announcements. That is the case now. We are not publishing news releases about additional cases or deaths related to COVID-19 unless the circumstances warrant. As we assume community transmission is occurring, there is no action that the public needs to take as a result of another case of COVID-19 in Loudoun County that hasn’t already been prescribed by the county Health Department, VDH, and CDC. At this stage of the outbreak, it is not necessary to know whether an individual was present in a particular grocery store, for example, because at this point, the risk of exposure is the same in all grocery stores. Fortunately, essential establishments, such as grocery stores, are taking extraordinary steps to clean their stores, implement social distancing protocols, and educate their staff on prevention measures—all in an effort to minimize the potential exposure to germs.
"The health and safety of residents is the county’s top priority. If the county has any information that anyone in the community is believed to be at increased risk of infection, the Health Department will notify that individual; if that is not possible, the Health Department will provide that information to the public. At this point, what the public needs to know—the action that the public needs to take—are those public health practices and guidance that the county, VDH, CDH, and governor have issued, which will help slow the spread of COVID-19. These include washing hands frequently, staying home except for essential trips, and maintaining a distance of 6 feet between yourself and others. While people may be curious to know information about the individuals who are tested for COVID-19 with whom they have not come into contact, they do not need to know that information to protect themselves."