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Webb, Warner host socially-distanced discussion about COVID-19, health equity

Updated: Aug. 25, 2020 at 10:30 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As the coronavirus pandemic lingers, many are turning to their elected officials for solutions. That’s why Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and 5th district congressional candidate Cameron Webb, both democrats, hosted a socially-distanced roundtable in Charlottesville to discuss fighting the virus.

The roundtable had diversity in profession, age, gender, and race. That was valued because they talked a lot about equity.

“Black and Brown people, those with lower socioeconomic status, those people are always going to be at the short end of the stick,” said Dr. Ebony Hilton, a critical care physician at UVA.

Dr. Leigh-Ann Webb, an emergency services doctor and Cameron’s wife, said she sees inequities in the ER at UVA.

“Looking at these things, we’re hoping to apply an equity lens to everything we do,” she said. “But we know disparities still exist in testing rates, hospitalizations, mortalities, because we see that in the ICU.”

That’s what Sen. Warner and Cameron Webb discussed on Tuesday.

“Nothing would be worse than coming on top of the mismanagement on PPE and the mismanagement on testing than God-willing when we get a vaccination if we don’t have a fair distribution system,” Warner said.

Among those who attended was Dr. Max Luna, a member of the Latinx community and an associate professor with the UVA Heart and Vascular Center.

“[Warner] came to us with very specific as well as open questions trying to pick our brain on how the federal and state government can support the need of our Latino community.”

Among the solutions discussed were quicker returns on testing results and wider distribution of those tests. Cameron Webb shared a more moral solution.

“I think one of the critical next steps for us to get to a point of real solutions is getting beyond the politics of it,” he said.

As the political world and science world find themselves at odds over issues like convalescent plasma treatment, Webb says there shouldn’t be a debate.

“From our standpoint as a health care field, we’re still following the science,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the political arena, our patients are our first priority.”

As the conversation was going on, Warner said he’s looking forward to when kids are able to go back to school. But he said that will only happen when the virus in under control.

Kellen Squire, an ER nurse, said this is another area of inequality.

“The well-to-do folks are kind of treating it as a gap year, but not everyone can do that.”

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