HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger hosted a virtual telephone town hall with U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), Virginia Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Dr. Janice Underwood, and VCU Massey Cancer Center Director Dr. Robert Winn to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on minority communities in Central Virginia and across the country.
During her interactive telephone town hall on Wednesday, Spanberger and her guests delivered updates on the current situation, and they answered questions from Seventh District residents about the response to COVID-19 at the federal, state, and local levels. More than 4,100 Central Virginians tuned in to participate in Spanberger’s public, virtual town hall. Click here to watch the full event.
“COVID-19 has impacted every family, business, and community in Central Virginia — but its devastating effects have been unequal, particularly in our Black and Hispanic communities. As Virginia moves toward reopening, we need to develop a better understanding of these issues, but we also need to build a comprehensive strategy to protect the populations that have been hardest hit,” said Spanberger. “At a time when up-to-date information is critical to reducing the threat posed by COVID-19, I’m grateful to have a range of diverse voices who can speak to these issues in Virginia. I’d like to thank Congresswoman Underwood, Dr. Underwood, and Dr. Winn for lending their voices to this critical conversation, and I’ll keep working to achieve equal access to healthcare and improved outcomes for all Central Virginians.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has forced our country to grapple with the inequities in our healthcare system, and now is the time to roll up our sleeves and address the structural issues that have led to worse outcomes for our underserved and marginalized communities,” said Dr. Robert Winn, Director, VCU Massey Cancer Center. “I’d like to thank Congresswoman Spanberger for bringing a range of voices to the table to outline the many challenges at hand. I believe that we will come out of this pandemic as a stronger community and a stronger country, but that begins by increasing access to testing, educating the public, and working together to find long-term solutions.”
“Here in Virginia, we’ve seen the COVID-19 pandemic disrupt all aspects of our lives. As our Commonwealth moves into additional phases of reopening, we need to engage with every community and inform them about the challenges that remain in mitigating the effects of this virus,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Office of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. “I appreciate the opportunity from Congresswoman Spanberger to speak directly with Central Virginians about the challenges facing diverse communities during this pandemic, and I look forward to working with her team on additional ways to enact meaningful reforms, close equity gaps, and make our Commonwealth a healthier and more inclusive place for all.”
Current data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests racial and ethnic minority groups are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19. In the Henrico Health District alone, African Americans account for about 30 percent of the population but represent 42 percent of cases and 43 percent of deaths. And according to the Virginia Department of Health, there are 17,810 COVID-19 cases among the Virginia Hispanic population, or 50 percent of all cases where there is ethnic data.
Yesterday, Spanberger, Dr. Winn, and Dr. Underwood penned an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch outlining the need to address structural racism and racial inequality in the United States. Click here to read their piece.
Wednesday’s telephone town hall was Spanberger’s sixth free, public telephone town hall since the COVID-19 pandemic began focused on the impacts of the virus on Central Virginia families, businesses, and seniors . Last month, she hosted a telephone town hall with experts from AARP Virginia and the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services to discuss the current challenges facing Central Virginia seniors and caregivers, as well as resources available to them as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Click here to listen to the full event.