FRONT ROYAL – Two people within the Lord Fairfax Health District - which includes Shenandoah, Page, Clarke, Frederick and Warren counties - have tested positive for COVID-19.

On Sunday, the health district announced that a woman in her 30s, who lives in the district, has the virus. It was also announced over the weekend that a man in his 60s, who does not live in the area, tested positive and is being hospitalized in the district.

The health district's news releases do not state exactly where the woman is from or where the man is being hospitalized. A release states that health district staff is working to contact anyone in the region who may have had contact with the two individuals.

The Virginia Department of Health's statistics, which are updated once a day, did not reflect the two new cases as of Sunday evening. 

COVID-19 cases continue rising, as the figure jumped to 219 on Sunday, according to Virginia Department of Health statistics. The new figures represent 67 new cases in 24 hours.

There are three statewide deaths; Gov. Ralph Northam announced during a Sunday news conference that a 60-year-old Fairfax man recently became the latest casualty.

Northam said the number of reported cases is increasing not only because there are more tests but also because “the virus continues to spread.”

State citizens tested numbered 3,337 on Sunday with 32 hospitalizations, VDH statistics show.

The World Health Organization reported Saturday that there were 266,073 cases worldwide and 11,184 deaths. In America, the organization's report shows 15,219 cases and 201 deaths.

Dr. Lillian Peake, a VDH epidemiologist, said during the Sunday news conference that number of cases will continue rising in the coming weeks. She said the state's lab has about 1,000 tests “and we’re looking at how we can stretch that capacity and use those tests widely until we have more available.”

Northam said “it is clear” COVID-19 “is going to be with us for a long time.”

“Months, not weeks. We need to begin adjusting to that reality. I know that makes people anxious and fearful. It is difficult to live with uncertainty. But the sooner we all adopt these new ways of living, the sooner we will all get through this,” he said.

Northam said how quickly the number of cases rises "is up to you and me and every single Virginian." He noted it is critical for citizens to stay home when possible while avoiding crowds and gatherings. While most Virginians have heard that message, he said “some people are not listening and I want you to know you are putting every single one of us in Virginia at risk.”

During a Saturday news conference, he noted that people should take “basic health precautions” by washing hands, avoid touching faces, covering faces while coughing or sneezing and practicing social distancing.

As the number of cases continues increasing, Attorney General Mark Herring recently issued an opinion stating that local governments can conduct electronic meetings if the meeting’s purpose is to address the emergency. The opinion adds that the General Assembly does not plan to allow public bodies to handle all business electronically.

“We understand that while everyone is focused on this epidemic that business of government must be able to continue,” Northman said Saturday.

He added that the state is not discarding “public accountability and transparency measures” due to the emergency because that could result in “bad policies.” He noted that features of public meetings allowing public access are critical.

“Public bodies should ask themselves: Is the action we’re taking truly essential? If not, they should defer it until they meet in person again,” Northam said.

Northam said Sunday that he plans to make a Monday announcement regarding whether the timeframe of state-wide school closures will be extended.

He also noted that the federal Department of Education is accepting waivers from states for federal testing requirements and the state’s department of education “is already Virginia’s waiver.” Northam added that his office is considering “actions necessary to provide relief to students on state-mandated SOL tests.”

While Northam was adamant that the situation will linger for "months, not weeks," he said “we will win this fight but we are in it for a long time.”

– Contact Josh Gully at jgully@nvdaily.com