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New VCU Poll: Black Virginians Twice as Likely to Face Economic Hardship During Recovery

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The pandemic is hitting racial and ethnic minorities harder in Virginia, according to a new poll.

Black people in Virginia were twice as likely to have a member of their household lose a job, be placed on furlough or have their work hours cut in the last three months. That's according to a new poll from the Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Former Governor Wilder says the poll shows a divide in Virginia.

"It's money," he explains. "It's the opportunity to have a better life, to live in a better environment, to have better health, to be in a position to buy foods that are wholesome, to have groceries that are available, to have transportation to be able to afford to be able to get to a job."

That last point, having transportation, is crucial for workers as they return -- or try to return -- to the workforce.

"If you don't have a car, if you have no public transportation available, and if the job is of such a nature that you've got to be there on a regular basis, eight hours, etcetera; how are you going to get there," Wilder asks.

The poll also found that a majority of Virginians, 61%, support colleges and universities requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus this fall.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.