CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Facts and faith: that has been the approach the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Equity has been taking in combination with community religious leaders.
This Friday, another ‘F’ was added: Fauci.
At the webinar, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, pointed to data that said Black and Brown communities have been hospitalized and died from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates. A shot of hope is near, but there are questions about how soon until it’s here for everyone.
“We hope by the time we get to April we’ll be able to get to what we call ‘open season,’” Fauci said. “Namely, anybody, even if you’re not in the priority group, will be able to get vaccinated. Hopefully even sooner than that.”
That’s the goal Fauci set. It’s a tall task, as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam acknowledged.
“The logistics are incredibly complex, and so are the sheer numbers,” Northam said.
The governor says Virginia is getting about 110,000 doses of vaccine a week, but there are 500,000 Virginians eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1A, and an additional 3.7 million in Phases 1B and 1C. Only after those people does the general public become eligible.
Then, there’s the problem of trust - especially among Black and Brown communities.
“That’s the past, a shameful past, that we have to live with,” Fauci said. “But there are now safeguards in place that will never let that happen again.”
During the virtual session’s Q&A, faith-based leaders asked: how can we help?
“When you get up there and say to your brethren, and your brothers and sisters who come to your churches, that it’s important for you to get vaccinated, that means an awful lot,” Fauci said.
If all goes well, the million-dollar question then becomes: when will we, finally, get back to some sort of normal?
“I believe by the time we get to the fall, if - and it’s a big if that you have to underline - if we get that overwhelming majority of people vaccinated, I think we could start reaching a reasonable degree of normalcy by the mid-fall of 2021,” Fauci said.
Gov. Northam said the goal in Virginia is 25,000 shots a day, but that is dependent on more supply, because the 110,000 doses delivered per week won’t be enough.