Pandemic ‘is still very real’

7/9/2020, 6 p.m.
The spread of COVID-19 has slowed in Richmond – but the city isn’t in the clear just yet.

That’s the prognosis Richmond officials offered Monday during a news conference.

“The pandemic is still very real,” Mayor Levar M. Stoney said. “And what we don’t want to happen is that COVID-19

catches us slipping.”

As of Wednesday, the city has seen 2,321 positive cases and 29 deaths from the coronavirus, as reported by the Virginia Department of Health.

Officials also reported 67,375 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia, along with 1,905 deaths and 6,577 hospitalizations. African-Americans making up 19.4 percent of the cases and 23.7 percent of the deaths, while Latinos comprise 44.1 percent of cases and 11.3 percent of deaths.

Dr. Danny T.K. Avula, director of the Richmond and Henrico County health districts, said while there have been no confirmed deaths from COVID- 19 in the last two weeks, the sharp decline in cases and hospitalizations from the virus has started to plateau.

The city is “not out of the woods” yet, he said, adding that state measures and individual efforts could moderate any uptick.

Dr. Avula also said more attention is being placed on Richmond’s Latino population that comprise half of the city’s confirmed COVID-19 cases. This includes adding more bilingual health officers, working to earn the trust of undocumented members of the community and offer- ing greater support with testing, isolation and quarantine.

Richmond residents who test positive for the coronavirus will continue to receive primary care support, particularly for those who have no health insurance or who are underinsured, as well as isolation options for those unable to do so on their own, officials said.

The city also is working with community colleges to understand the needs of workers who have lost jobs or been furloughed because of the virus, health guidelines and decisions made by employers.

Richmond businesses that have seen support through tax amnesty, PPE distribution and more also will be the focus of a grant program for small businesses and restaurants supported by $3 million allocated from the federal CARES Act funding received by the city, according to Mayor Stoney. About $6 million has been allocated to the new Emergency Rent Assistance Program, created at the urging of housing justice advocates, to aid residents facing eviction in the city.

“We have to be diligent, but we know we have to be urgent as well,” Mayor Stoney said.