(UPDATE: The victim was identified Thursday afternoon as Loudoun County first grade teacher Susan Rokus, who had taught at Liberty Elementary in South Riding and Pinewood Elementary in Aldie.)

Loudoun County officials have announced the first death in the county from the coronavirus pandemic. A woman in her 70s who was in a local hospital passed away from complications of the disease.

The announcement came just after 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

It was immediately followed by a statement from Loudoun Schools Superintendent Eric Williams that the woman had been a staff member at a local school. Several local schools have had staff members come down with the coronavirus, including Waxpool Elementary, the Academies of Loudoun, as well as a staff member connected to Liberty Elementary in South Riding and Pinebrook Elementary in Aldie.

It has not been announced which school the patient who passed away worked at.

There are now 28 identified coronavirus cases in Loudoun County, an increase of eight from Wednesday.

Here is the full announcement from the Loudoun County Health Department, followed by the statement from Superintendent Williams.

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Loudoun County Health Department Reports First COVID-19 Death

The Loudoun County Health Department is reporting its first death of a hospitalized patient who previously tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. The patient was a woman in her 70s whose close contacts were previously investigated. The cause of death was respiratory failure as a result of COVID-19.  No additional information is being provided about this woman.

The Virginia Department of Health provides updated information on the number of cases and deaths related to coronavirus at www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.

“We are saddened by the first confirmed death of a Loudoun County resident due to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to her loved ones,” said Director of the Loudoun County Health Department Dr. David Goodfriend. “The health of our residents is our top priority and this represents no additional risk to the community.  We ask that everyone do their part to slow the spread of the virus in our community: practice social distancing, wash your hands, and cover coughs and sneezes.”

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. If symptoms develop, please contact your health care provider and describe the situation.

To lower the risk of transmission, the Health Department recommends the following:

  • Avoid non-essential travel and public gatherings, especially if you are an individual who is at increased risk for severe illness, including pregnant women, older adults and persons of any age with underlying health conditions.
  • Avoid travel to all areas where there are outbreaks of COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are mildly sick with a fever, stay home except to get medical care.
  • Those with high risk factors and who have fever or a new or worsening cough, should consider contacting their providers earlier when they are sick. Call ahead to let them know of your symptoms.

Loudoun County encourages residents to stay informed about COVID-19.

  • Visit loudoun.gov/coronavirus for more information about how to protect yourself and your family and to sign up for email and text updates on COVID-19.
  • Text LCCOVID19 to 888777 to receive text alerts from Loudoun County about COVID-19.

Residents with questions about COVID-19 may call the Loudoun County Health Department’s information line, 703-737-8300, or send an email.

Note: This fatality was not included in the statewide count earlier today. The count is updated daily with numbers reported by 5:00 p.m. the evening before.

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Dear LCPS Community,

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of a staff member of the Loudoun County Public Schools. She died last night due to complications related to the COVID-19 virus. She is someone whose close contacts were previously investigated by the Loudoun County Health Department (LCHD) and the LCHD has reached out to each of these contacts.

We each grieve differently, drawing solace and strength from a variety of sources. Some of us turn to family. Some of us turn to a faith community. Members of specific school communities often lean on one another.

And as a broader Loudoun County Public Schools community and as a broader Loudoun community we can and should turn to one another for solace and strength.

The interfaith concept of Love of Neighbor, endorsed by many religious and non-religious people alike, will lead many of us to grieve her loss, even if we did not know her. We know that she is not a statistic, nor a number. I am not sharing her name or specific remembrances because it is my sense that she would prefer it that way, but she is someone who loved and was loved. She is someone who felt joy and sorrow. She is someone who poured her whole self into contributing to our community.

Even as we grieve, we each have a role to play in providing community care right now. We show love of neighbor by practicing community care, including physical distancing, other preventative measures recommended by public health officials, and the directives of the Governor. It’s said that “there is a time for everything,” and it’s still time for each of us to commit to community care.

During this time, it will be natural for children to ask questions and to be concerned about their own health. It is important to be available to speak with children about the ways adults are working to help keep them safe, reminding them of the basic actions they can take to protect themselves and others. Finally, as caregivers, modeling both positive and healthy activities can be beneficial to helping your child through this time.

If you wish to speak of death in the coming days or weeks with your child, please know that it may evoke a wide range of reactions.  Our children are receiving numerous messages through social media and the news relating to COVID-19. There are resources available through LCPS Pupil Services website and National Association of School Psychologists that may be helpful to you in discussing COVID-19 with your child if you wish. Soon this webpage will include a resource relating specifically to speaking with young people regarding death.

A strength of each of our school communities is that its members support each other in our time of need. Life’s lessons are sometimes the hardest to teach and learn, especially with young children. If your child needs to speak with a school counselor, please reach out to the School Counselor or your child’s principal.

Warm Regards,

Eric Williams, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Loudoun County Public Schools