RECAP: City of Richmond COVID-19 response, new programs

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney provided a COVID-19 update this afternoon. Stoney was joined by Dr. Danny Avula of the Richmond City Health District and Sherrill Hampton of Housing and Community Development.

Stoney started off by thanking Richmond City Council for their work on the American Rescue Plan. Stoney said they will start using the funds as early as today.

In regards to COVID-19 in the city, since the pandemic started there have been 23,819 cases and 347 deaths. The 7-day average is down to 17.6 cases.

Stoney continues to advise people to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to keep themselves and others safe. The Richmond City Health District has set up four vaccination hubs to create better access to the vaccines.

As we approach Halloween weekend, Stoney offered tips for trick-or-treaters. He said that the Virginia Department of Health is recommending that those going from house to house sanitize often

“Stay outside, and sanitize the kids, their hands, between each and every house. If you are giving out candy like I might be giving out candy, consider standing 6 feet away,” Mayor Stoney said.

Dr. Danny Avula also echoed Stoney’s advice about getting vaccinated. He also went over guidance for boosters. He said the type of booster does not matter since you can mix and match.

In the early afternoon update, Dr. Avula said an update on vaccinations for children could from the FDA soon. Around 5 p.m., FDA advisers announced they are backing the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The panel doesn’t have the final say and the FDA is expected to make their decision within days.

Dr. Avula said VDH is prioritizing getting pediatric vaccine doses for children ages 5 and 11 to places like pediatrician offices and pharmacies.

Next week, the CDC’s advisory committee will be meeting to do their own review of the pediatric vaccine — that’s the final step in making the vaccine available.

Once that happens, children can start getting vaccinated. Dr. Avula said that if you have an 11 year old who is turning 12 soon, it is safe for them to take the first kid’s vaccine dose.

“Even if you’re 11 and it’s coming soon, go ahead and get that first dose because the 10 microgram dose has shown really good immune response, even for older children,” Avula said.

Sherrill Hampton of Housing and Community Development also talked about the city’s programs for home weatherizing and the unsheltered.

Hampton introduced two new programs including a new inclement weather shelter for unhoused city residents.

Richmond City Council set aside $17 million to implement a new shelter. The program will be implemented in two phases — the first is a temporary shelter at the Quality Inn on Arthur Ashe Boulevard followed by a permanent shelter. The city will be working with Commonwealth Catholic Charities on this initiative.

Meal, showers, case management and resources will be available 12-15 hours a day at the Quality Inn starting early November.

The second program is a comprehensive revitalization and rehabilitation initiative. The city is working with three non-profits in order to expand the program. Over 1,600 people are waiting for home repairs and this program would speed up the process.

Hampton said they will be working with local contractors and landlords to get the work done.

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