FILE - Coronavirus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19.

(The Center Square) – The death of a 70-year-old man is the first in the commonwealth attributed to COVID-19, Virginia officials reported Saturday.

The man, who had been hospitalized, acquired COVID-19 from an unknown source and died from respiratory failure. State and local health officials from the Peninsula Health District did not identify where the man was from.

“Pam and I were deeply saddened to learn that a Virginian has died from COVID-19, and we grieve for everyone this virus has touched around the world," Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. "The health of Virginians and our communities is my most important priority right now. As a commonwealth, we have taken major, critical steps to stop the spread of COVID- 19. I have declared a state of emergency, closed K-12 schools across the state, restricted visitors at nursing homes and correctional facilities, limited state employee travel, and canceled large events."

The Virginia Department of Health has reported 41 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus originating in China.

The disease has caused at least 57 deaths in the U.S.

COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

"This is a public health crisis," Northam said. "We must all treat it as such."

Regional Editor

Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.