Equity pilot program brings 40,000 pieces of COVID-19 PPE to low-income Richmond residents

Updated: May. 12, 2020 at 3:27 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Personal protective equipment (PPE) is in the hands of some of the most vulnerable in Richmond. The state and the city have teamed up to make protection from COVID-19 more equitable.

“Black and brown communities in this city have paid a disproportionate price in this pandemic," said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. "A disproportionate price.”

Stoney and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam kicked off the health equity pilot program near Armstrong High School. The surrounding community is identified by state and census data as having a great need.

“One of the things that this pandemic has brought out and made us more aware is we still have inequities in today’s society and one of those inequities is access to medical care,” said Northam.

Richmond Firefighters and others handed out 20,000 face masks, 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 10,000 information flyers about coronavirus. Of the 18 COVID-19 deaths in the City of Richmond, 16 were people of color.

“This will help us prevent that death but also that infection as well, but also as a statement that the commonwealth of Virginia and the city of Richmond believes the value of a black or brown life is just as valuable as the value on a white life as well,” said Stoney.

In recent weeks, Richmond has stepped up testing efforts within low-income communities. The pilot program is just the next step in helping residents ride out the virus, but will be used in other parts of the commonwealth moving forward.

“So that we can show all other localities if you look around here, this is how we do it. This is how it’s done. This is how we show love. Virginia is for lovers and this is how we love one another,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, Governor Northam’s Chief Diversity Officer.

Richmond Fire Chief Melvin Carter said Tuesday’s PPE distribution event is day one of a 365-day approach to helping under-served communities. They hope to expand what was done here but are still figuring out how to do that.

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