RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is asking Gov. Ralph Northam to create a statewide COVID-19 task force to address racial disparities in certain under-served communities. He points to "alarming and glaring racial disparities" regarding COVID-19 data within the African-American and LatinX communities.
Despite only accounting for 27.5% of the state's populations African-American and LatinX communities comprise 64.3% of the state's coronavirus cases, according to Virginia Department of Health data through May 5.
"These glaring disparities exist throughout the Commonwealth with regards to confirmed and probable cases, hospitalizations and deaths," Fairfax said in a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam. "In one severe example, it was recently reported in Richmond, where African Americans comprise 48% of the city's population, approximately 94% of COVID-19 related deaths were of African-Americans."
The Lieutenant Governor noted that many members of these communities have been designated as essential, frontline workers, making them more exposed to the virus, and have higher levels of pre-existing conditions that leave them more susceptible to the virus.
Fairfax suggested that the task force take actions such as:
- Partner with religious institutions to increase testing and treatment in minority communities
- Deploy mobile testing units in under-served areas
- Partner with community health and not-for-profit organizations to connect community members with free testing and treatment services
- Provide free PPE to barber shops, beauty salons, grocers and other small businesses
- Prominently post direct, day-to-day point-of-service COVID-19 related multi-lingual healthcare information in under-served communities
"There is a particular fear and anxiety in minority communities surrounding the vastly disproportionate racial impact of the pandemic and the spread of the virus," Fairfax said. "We must do all we can at this critical moment to relieve those fears."
See Fairax's full letter to Gov. Northam below.