BRHD reflecting on 2 years since first confirmed COVID-19 case in district

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 9:21 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - It has been two years since the first COVID-19 case was identified in the Blue Ridge Health District. Now, it’s reflecting on how it can apply the lessons learned when future outbreaks occur.

“Here in our health district, there have been nearly 44,000 individuals that have tested positive that we’re aware of for COVID-19. During that time period, we also lost 435 community members to COVID-19,” BRHD Director Dr. Denise Bonds said Wednesday March 16.

Bonds is shining a light on inequities from the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to point out that this disease was disproportionate to members of our community, our communities of color,” Bonds said. “Although Black people make up 13% of our population and Latinos 5%, Black people compromised 28% of our hospitalizations and 18% of the death. So, really a huge disproportionate impact on individuals. Seven percent of our hospitalizations were amongst those who are Latino.”

BRHD says it continues to adapt from vaccines to mitigation strategies.

“We had to learn new things. We had to communicate in different ways. We had to deliver services in ways that we hadn’t really thought of before,” BRHD Director of Policy and Planning Ryan McKay said.

Since March 16, 2020, BRHD’s COVID-19 hotline has answered more than 80,000 calls.

“We wanted to make sure that we provided equitable access to the vaccine to people where they live in places where they’re more comfortable,” McKay said.

From vaccinating people in tents, to going to homes, McKay says the health department has come a long way.

“Our vaccination campaign brought four different systems of giving vaccine to those who really needed it,” he said.

Bonds says the learning continues.

“We are so much better prepared now than we were two years ago. We understand how COVID is transmitted. We have medications to mitigate the disease in both the inpatient and the outpatient settings,” Bonds said.

Copyright 2022 WVIR. All rights reserved.

Do you have a story idea? Send us your news tip here.