The Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a new website with an interactive map showing cases of the coronavirus within its healthcare system, including cases located in San Diego.
The nationwide numbers show 5,505 positive cases and 339 deaths among veterans as of April 20
In San Diego County, which is in a state that started social distancing early, 35 veterans have tested positive for COVID-19 in the VA San Diego Healthcare System. The 35 veterans make up about 1.5% of all the positive cases reported in the county.
The data also shows no veterans being served by the VA in San Diego have died.
According to the latest published records from the VA, at least four veterans have been treated in the San Diego VA Hospital.
Looking at the numbers from areas hit harder by the virus, like New York and New Jersey, the number of veteran cases are understandably higher. But the percentage of veterans to overall cases remains low.
But at a VA hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana -- a state that has resisted social distancing restrictions to lower the curve -- the data shows 446 veterans have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s about 7% of all cases in that hospital's county -- coronavirus-related veteran deaths totaled 32.
Director of the VA San Diego Healthcare System Dr. Robert Smith told NBC 7 in a statement, “To minimize Veteran exposure to COVID-19, we have reduced face-to-face contact and significantly increased our use of telemedicine appointments including primary care, mental health and some specialty care. We have screening at all facility entrances and now have COVID-19 tests with a one to two-day turnaround.”
Veterans are also being encouraged to use digital tools like VA Video Connect to access healthcare and get access to records and Tele-Medicine to communicate to their doctors.
By mid-March the VA San Diego put safety measures in place, screening veterans to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
More than 9 million veterans are served by the VA across the country, 86,000 veterans use VA medical centers in San Diego and Imperial counties.