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Sentara limits visitors; Charlottesville City to review special event applications
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Sentara limits visitors; Charlottesville City to review special event applications

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Starting Thursday, visitation at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital will be limited.

Sentara Healthcare, which owns the local hospital, announced the limitations and other updates related to the ongoing epidemic Wednesday as the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the state continued to tick up.

All Sentara hospitals now will allow only two visitors when visiting patients in hospitals, emergency departments and outpatient settings. Those who are ill or who recently have traveled internationally are asked not to visit the hospital.

Sentara’s senior care centers will be limited to two visitors a day who will be screened for signs of illness and travel histories before being allowed to enter.

Additionally, Optima Health, the insurance company owned by Sentara, will waive co-pays for telehealth doctor visits and those associated with COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Sentara also is developing its own test for the illness.

A spokesman said the University of Virginia Medical Center is reviewing visitation policies on a day-to-day basis but none have been adjusted so far.

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Also on Wednesday, the City of Charlottesville announced further precautions to curb the virus’ spread.

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, Charlottesville doesn’t have plans to adjust the scheduled City Council meeting on Monday. However, that could change if public health officials make new recommendations, a city spokesman said.

City Manager Tarron Richardson is evaluating alternative venues and participation options for officials and members of the public who want to attend public meetings, according to a news release. Regular meetings of City Council are televised and streamed on the city’s website and on Facebook.

Additionally, Richardson is reviewing special event applications that involve large crowds and could require additional precautionary measures recommended by the Health Department, according to the release.

Meanwhile, facilities staff have created more hand sanitizer stations and are expanding cleaning protocols. Visitors to City Hall are encouraged to follow best practices for not spreading the flu and other respiratory illnesses, such as covering coughs and sneezes and frequent hand washing.

Albemarle County officials are currently planning for a potential outbreak locally and are focusing on raising public awareness about how to prevent the virus from spreading.

County spokeswoman Emily Kilroy said county staff are coordinating when and how to accommodate alternative participation in public meetings.

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