VA says second veteran diagnosed with coronavirus, awaits CDC confirmation
By STEVE BEYNON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 5, 2020
WASHINGTON — A veteran in Nevada has been diagnosed with coronavirus by the Department of Veterans Affairs, marking the second patient to receive treatment for the illness in an agency hospital.
VA officials said Thursday that the patient is being treated at a VA facility in Nevada and the department is waiting for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the diagnoses. Until the CDC confirms, which takes 24-48 hours, cases are noted “presumptively positive," according to the CDC.
As the VA scrambles to prepare for potential coronavirus cases across the country, it is screening all staff and patients who show symptoms of the virus.
“VA is screening veterans and staff who present with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath who meet the CDC criteria for evaluation of [the coronavirus] infection,” said Christina Mandreucci, a VA spokeswoman. “Per CDC guidance and VA protocols, individuals known to be at risk for a [coronavirus] infection are immediately isolated to prevent potential spread to others.”
Mandreucci also said the risk of transmission to other patients and staff is low, and the veteran is being cared for is isolated.
The VA is caring for another veteran diagnosed with coronavirus in Palo Alto, Calif., VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told lawmakers Wednesday. However, the department cited privacy issues when officials declined to provide details on the patient’s age or how he or she came into contact with the virus.
On Thursday, some VA facilities across the country began restricting visitors, with guest limits for patients and some children not allowed. Half of the department’s patients are older than 65, which is the most at-risk demographic, according to the CDC. A VA nursing home in Manchester, N.H., has also put out a warning that there is no visitation at that facility.
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has reached more than 150 in 18 states, with 12 deaths as a result of the fast-spreading illness. Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 97,000 and killed more than 3,300 people.