Virginia Beach Partners with Commonwealth to Make Masks and Sanitizer Available to Vulnerable Neighborhoods

Under Virginia’s Health Equity Pilot Program, the City will distribute personal protective equipment and public health information in the Western Bayside, Green Run, Rosemont and Seatack communities.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

​The City of Virginia Beach is partnering with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and the Commonwealth's Health Equity Taskforce to distribute 20,000 masks and bottles of hand sanitizer to targeted communities.

The first several distribution events are scheduled in conjunction with a free COVID-19 testing hosted by the Virginia Beach Department of Health. Additional distribution events will be held throughout the month of August and will be announced as plans are finalized. The first scheduled events are:

Friday, July 31
10 a.m. – noon
Lynnhaven Baptist Church, 2744 Robert Jackson Drive

Saturday, Aug. 8
10 a.m. – noon
Level Green Park, Level Green Boulevard
(Between Commonwealth Drive and Clear Springs Court)

The bags, earmarked for high-risk communities, will contain two cloth masks, two bottles of hand sanitizer and literature from the Health Equity Taskforce on COVID-19 and mask washing instructions. They will also include a reminder to complete the 2020 Census and important hurricane preparedness information.

This state-local partnership, launched by Governor Ralph Northam on May 11, is designed to increase equitable access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and public health information in underserved and historically disadvantaged communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The Health Equity Leadership Task Force used a data-driven approach to identify communities across the commonwealth most in need and 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. More than 40 localities statewide have been identified for participation in the Health Equity Pilot Program and each will receive up to 20,000 cloth masks, bottles of hand sanitizer and appropriate translated public health materials. To date, the commonwealth has partnered with 32 localities. More than 390,000 cloth masks and 350,000 bottles of hand sanitizer have been delivered to municipalities across the state.

"One of the key steps in successfully stopping the spread is making sure that all of our residents are equipped with the supplies they need to keep their families safe," said Mayor Robert M. "Bobby" Dyer. "We're working with the state to get PPE in the hands of folks who need it because we don't want anyone who is trying to do the right thing to be thwarted by an inability to purchase masks or sanitizing products."

"The Equity Leadership Task Force is excited to partner with the City of Virginia Beach for our health equity reform and PPE distribution program," said Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer to Governor Northam. "COVID-19 cases are surging in the Hampton Roads area. Therefore, it will take all of us wearing a mask, using appropriate hygiene practices, and staying home when we can to protect each other. Communities of color have disproportionately carried the burden of COVID-19, but collaboration with localities like the City of Virginia Beach highlight Virginia's commitment to local-state partnerships that promote an equitable response and recovery from this deadly disease."

"VDEM is delighted to work collaboratively with the City of Virginia Beach to implement the Health Equity Pilot Program," said VDEM State Coordinator Curtis Brown. "COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income populations, and has further shed light on systemic inequities. This program is focused on supporting local governments in their efforts to equitably provide much needed resources to community members."

Applying an equity lens to the COVID-19 mitigation and response efforts is important, as many Virginia residents do not have access to lifesaving personal protective equipment, are not able to socially and physically distance from others and take in important information differently. The Health Equity Pilot Project is a collaborative effort with local governments and provides municipalities with timely health equity and public safety training and residents with much needed personal protective equipment.

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