The patient was a Chesapeake-area woman. The cause of death hasn't been confirmed, but the H1N1 swine flu appears to be a factor.
"We are deeply saddened by this death and offer our condolences to the family," Remley said. "The impact of this death is not lessened by the fact that the patient had preexisting medical conditions that increased the risk of complications from influenza."
The woman lived at the Southeastern Virginia Training Center, one of 16 facilities operated by the state's Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, which responded quickly to the case, health officials said, by seeking care for the patient and preventing spread of infection.
Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine said the patient's other health conditions probably exacerbated the swine flu virus.
"The news today that the commonwealth has witnessed its first death associated with the H1N1 influenza virus is a sad and sharp reminder that Virginians must remain vigilant against the spread of this potentially fatal illness," Kaine said. "My heart goes out to the family and friends of the young woman who passed away this afternoon in Chesapeake."
Before Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 17 deaths in the country caused by the new virus. Worldwide, 115 deaths have been confirmed before Tuesday.
About 1,000 people die in Virginia yearly from influenza and pneumonia, according health officials.