RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the city’s priority is to expand its testing capacity and expand access during the two-week reopening delay.
On Tuesday morning, Stoney and Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond and Henrico Health District, spoke prior to a scheduled testing site at Diversity Richmond.
Last week, Stoney requested that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam grant the City of Richmond a 2-week delay on entering “Phase One” of the state’s reopening plan. The state provided the city with coronavirus data that showed an upward trajectory in COVID-19 cases.
In order to get a better look at if Richmond should reopen on May 29, Stoney and the Richmond and Henrico Health District are ramping up COVID-19 testing. The results from Richmond’s testing efforts will determine if reopening the city is safe and equitable, Stoney said.
Readers can full the full conference below:
Stoney said he is working to ensure the safety of all Richmonders regardless of race or economic status.
“From the beginning, this administration has held the best way to control the pandemic is through more testing,” Stoney said.
In the next few weeks, the city plans to expand its testing efforts to three community testing sites a week.
So far the city and the health district have held six community testing sites. Stoney said the health district uses data by VDH to determine testing locations. So far, the community testing events account for testing more than 600 people in Richmond and more than 300 people in Henrico County, according Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts.
Richmond is also exploring the option of having the National Guard come and help out with community testing. The city will also be working with a private lab that has a large testing capacity.
The following events have been scheduled in the coming week:
- May 21, Tuckahoe Middle School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- May 22, East Lawn Shopping Center from 10 a.m. tp 1 p.m.
City residents can call the Richmond City Health District at 804-205-3501 to find out if they qualify and to register for these testing events.
Beyond testing, Stoney recommends that people take more precautions to limit the spread of the virus.
“We ask that you please wear a face mask of some sort,” Stoney said.
The city will continue distributing face coverings and sanitizer through the Richmond Fire Department.
Stoney said the city will also provide 500 face masks and sanitizer to each member of the Richmond City Council so they can distribute it in their district however they see fit.
The mayor also spoke about small businesses feeling pressure because of the Phase One Delay, adding that supporting small businesses remains his administration’s top priority. “I understand their frustration,” said Stoney.
When Richmond enters Phase One, Stoney said there is a potential for businesses to be granted patio expansions to allow more customers. “My hope is that this strategic approach will allow for ample and ongoing social distancing in our public spaces,” he said. Businesses that are interested should fill out this online form.
Stoney also encouraged small businesses to apply for the Richmond Small Business Disaster Loan Program, as well as the First Responders Meal Program, which 49 restaurants have enrolled in so far.
In addition, restaurants that purchased perishable food to prepare for outdoor service before it was announced that Richmond would have a Phase One delay were able to get reimbursement if they donated the food to Feed More.
For more information about the city’s efforts visit RVAStrong.org.