Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Fredericksburg have risen by one or two cases per day, every day this week.

Fourteen people have tested positive for the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Eleven are in Stafford County, two in Spotsylvania County and one in Fredericksburg, according to the Rappahannock Area Health District.

Local health officials are reaching out to people who had contact with the confirmed cases.

While the local numbers represent a gradual increase, consider the stats one week ago. On Friday, March 20, there were three cases in the district that includes Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties.

Likewise, on the same date, Virginia reported 114 cases statewide. As of noon Thursday, there were 460 confirmed cases and 13 deaths across the commonwealth.

Statewide, about 14 percent of those tested have been hospitalized, and that rate “is consistent with what we’ve seen in other countries,” said Dr. Donald Stern, acting director of the local health district.

The numbers don’t include the people who get COVID-19 and have mild to moderate symptoms for a week or two, then recover, Stern said. And, about 80 percent to 85 percent of those who get the illness won’t require hospital care.

But because this is a novel coronavirus—meaning it hasn’t been seen before—no one has immunity to it, and it’s highly infectious. When it’s spread to people who are elderly and have underlying health issues, such as a compromised immune system or chronic heart disease or diabetes, the reaction can turn fatal, as evidenced in Italy and Spain, where thousands have died from the disease.

That’s why measures are in place to keep the illness from spreading, Stern said.

“It’s not just for me that I would stay at home and minimize my contact with others,” he said. “It’s for others’ sake as well.”

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

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