First case of COVID-19 hits New River Valley

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 10:45 PM EDT
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A Radford University student is the first person in the New River Valley to test positive for COVID-19 after returning from spring break.

Prior to the time off, university officials asked students not to travel during break, but it wasn’t required.

We know the student is in her 20s and went out of state, but she did stay in the United States for her vacation.

“All of the city’s appropriate resources are being put toward battling this situation,” said Mayor David Horton. “While this is a milestone because it is the first case in the City of Radford and the New River Valley, it really doesn’t change. It underscores what we’re saying to make good choices and to do the right things.”

Officials said they have been preparing for an outbreak of any kind for quite some time, but they were most concerned as students came back from their break.

“On her return trip home, she started feeling ill and decided when she arrived back into Radford to self-isolate,” said Jason Deese of the


Deese has been in constant communication over the phone with the first RU student to test positive for


“In the near future we are concerned about the travel surrounding spring break both with the students and faculty and staff of our major universities around here,” Deese said.

Radford faculty and staff are working remotely from campus, just as students are getting their education online now to prevent the spread of this virus.

“As President Hemphill shared today, it’s not a time to panic, but it is a time to use sound judgement and follow practical advice that we’ve all been given,” said university spokeswoman Caitlyn Scaggs. “Now more than ever we’re not only asking but we are urging people to comply with guidance that’s been given.”

Because there are likely more cases to come.

“This is the first lab-confirmed case that we had here, but I’m sure there will be more and we’re ready for it,” Deese said.

Health officials said the woman is showing mild enough symptoms that she can recover at her home in Radford, but they will continue to monitor her conditions. She does not live in university-owned housing.

If you think you have symptoms, you're encouraged to contact the New River Health District Hotline at 540-267-8240

It is staffed Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 4 p.m.

It's possible they may be expanding their hours in the future.

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