The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and the Health Equity Working Group announced today a pilot program with the City of Newport News to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and public health information to residents. The Health Equity Pilot Program is a state-local partnership created to increase equitable access to essential supplies in underserved and historically disadvantaged communities, many of which have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Over 40 localities have been identified for participation in the Health Equity Pilot Program and will receive up to 20,000 cloth masks, bottles of hand sanitizer, and appropriate translated public health materials.
“As the number of COVID-19 cases in Virginia rises, we must empower everyone to become part of the solution and help us move the Commonwealth forward,” said McKinley L. Price, DDS, Mayor of Newport News. “Newport News residents will benefit tremendously from the lifesaving supplies and information provided through the Health Equity Program. We are proud to collaborate with the Commonwealth and Virginia Department of Emergency Management on this important initiative to protect the lives of those who are often overlooked and underserved, including people of color and low-income communities.”
The City of Newport News was allocated 20,000 masks and bottles of hand sanitizer through the program and has scheduled community engagement events throughout August at locations people most at risk of contracting COVID-19 can easily and safely access. During the events, the city will distribute PPE and provide translated public health information. Drive-thru COVID-19 tests will be provided by Sentara Healthcare in limited quantities during a select number of events. Please follow the city’s social media accounts or visit www.nnva.gov for details on upcoming events.
“Throughout the COVID-19 response in the Commonwealth, we have aggressively addressed the structural inequities that have caused the disparate impact of COVID-19 on black, brown, and native or indigenous communities,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer for Governor Ralph S. Northam and leader of the Unified Command Health Equity Work Group. “I am pleased to see the collaborative way Newport News is working to take care of those who have been historically under-represented. The state is committed to local-state partnerships like these and the continuous engagement with our communities to encourage inclusive efforts and help accomplish the much needed changes we need in our nation and Commonwealth.”
The Health Equity Program uses a data-driven approach to select areas in the Commonwealth that are most in need and where residents are at risk of contracting COVID-19. Communities were identified using indicators such as chronic diseases, household income, age, disability status and other important health factors.
“The Health Equity Pilot Program is the first of its kind to establish a state-local partnership to provide communities with PPE and public health information during this critical time,” said Curtis Brown, VDEM State Coordinator. “VDEM is proud to partner with the City of Newport News to equitably distribute these resources to those most in need and at-risk.”
For more information on the Health Equity Leadership Task Force, visit https://www.governor.virginia.gov/diversity/equity-leadership-taskforce.