Mayor Stoney says city employee dies from COVID-19 as officials assert need for expanded testing


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Dr. Danny Avula, the director of the city’s health district, provided an update Thursday on the coronavirus response in the city. During the briefing, Stoney confirmed that a city employee died from COVID-19.

Stoney said the city will not release the name of the employee but that the health district found no indication that any coworkers or Richmond residents were exposed.

“This was a dedicated, longtime city employee who will be greatly missed, not only by her family here, Richmond city government, but also by her family too,” said Stoney.

Eleven city employees have tested positive for the virus. Stoney said those employees must quarantine for two weeks and test negative for COVID-19 twice before returning for work.​

“COVID-19 does not discriminate. It knows no boundaries. Race, gender, you name it,” Stoney said.

As of Thursday, the Virginia Department of Health has reported 339 cases of COVID-19 and 15 deaths in Richmond. There are 63 city residents in the hospital with the virus.

READ MORE: In effort to expand access to testing, Creighton Court residents offered free COVID-19 tests

The mayor noted that the virus is still disproportionately affecting the city’s African American population. Dr. Avula said this is the reason why the city must continue testing.

“Fourteen out of our 15 individuals who have passed away here in the city are African American and I think it just underscores the need for us to continue our efforts to get testing to our predominantly minority communities,” Avula explained.

Dr. Avula hopes that in the next few weeks, more testing will be available at free clinics and federally qualified health centers. 

“I think there’s a few things on the horizon that will make that more possible,” he said. Avula said there will be free testing at Nottingham Green Apartments in Henrico County next week and they are working to finalize another community as well.

Amid the mayor’s remarks, the City of Richmond announced that its offices will remain closed to the public through at least May 17. All personnel deemed essential will continue to work.

WATCH: Thursday’s full COVID-19 briefing with Mayor Stoney, city officials

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