COVID-19's Continued and Disproportionate Impact on Communities of Color

Jul 29, 2020

COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact communities of color across the Commonwealth.

Nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 positive individuals in Virginia identify as African-American. And around 40% identify as Latinx – even though that community makes up a much smaller portion of the state’s overall population.

Dr. Norm Oliver – Virginia’s Health Commissioner – says the problem is even more amplified on the local and neighborhood level.

“In Fairfax, for example, the Latinx community makes up 60% of the cases in that county," he explains. "Here in Richmond, the Latinx community makes up 47% of the cases, and African-Americans are 34%.”

Nevertheless, Oliver says the state has had success in its contact tracing efforts.

“As of a couple days ago, July 27th, Virginia contact tracers were able to reach a little more than 74% of the cases.”

That includes cases in communities of color. He says the Virginia Department of Health has been working to hire diverse contact tracers. More than 100 of those hired so far are fluent in Spanish.

During Wednesday's press briefing, Oliver also said most Virginians are still at risk of contracting the virus.

He said VDH has partnered with the University of Virginia to determine the virus’ prevalence in the Commonwealth.

“Preliminary of this study show that about 2.4% of adult Virginians have antibodies to COVID-19,” said Oliver.

The commissioner also said the department is planning to roll out a new mobile app next week. It will alert those who download it of potential contact with other app users that have tested positive.