WATCH: Richmond leaders give update on city’s response to COVID-19, discuss racial disparity in cases

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney provided an update Tuesday on the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic with Richmond schools Superintendent Jason Kamras and Dr. Danny Avula, the director of the Henrico and Richmond Health Districts.

They revealed more information about the racial disparity in COVID-19 patients across the city.

Dr. Avula said of the 163 positive cases in the city, 62 percent are African American. Twenty-four percent of cases are white, a small percentage are Hispanic or multi-racial and the race of about 10 percent of cases is unknown.

“That follows a trend that we’ve seen across the country in terms of this has a disparate impact on communities that are black and brown,” said Stoney.

Avula also noted that there is an inequity in testing for COVID-19 as well. Starting Monday, the health district is sending out testing teams through resource centers and low-income communities. They hope to test between 100 and 150 under and uninsured people per day. Dr. Avula hopes this will also urge residents to stay home.

“Not only are we addressing the inequitable access to testing, but we’re doing case finding in neighborhoods where residents may respond differently and may hold even more tightly to those stay at home and social distancing guidelines,” Avula said.

He also said they are looking to recruit medical personnel who can be quickly trained to be a part of these testing teams. Those interested should contact the Medical Reserve Corps at their local health department.

Mayor Stoney warned that life as we once knew might not return anytime soon.

“When I hear the federal government talking about things will be back to normal in May, that’s a farce. That’s a farce. That is not going to be the case. This administration will not mislead the people of this city of thinking things will be back to normal in May,” Stoney said.

Dr. Avula echoed Stoney’s warning, adding that it is hard to predict when the peak in Virginia’s COVID-19 cases will come.​

“This is not a time for us to be thinking about lifting restrictions. If that peak is actually going to stay the peak, we have to stay as committed to staying at home and physical distancing as ever,” Avula said.

On Monday, Mayor Stoney proposed to Richmond City Council some amendments to the FY 2021 budget because of coronavirus. Those proposed changes would cut the budget by about 5 percent.

WATCH: Full coronavirus briefing with Richmond leaders on Tuesday

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