By Randy Singleton
Gov. Ralph Northam visited the Dr. Clarence Cuffee Community Center in Chesapeake on Friday (July 10) for a free COVID-19 testing event sponsored by Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, the Urban League of Hampton Roads, the Virginia Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Chesapeake Health Department, Buffalow Family & Friends, the South Norfolk community of churches and the Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
The event, which was spearheaded by Chesapeake State Delegate Cliff Hayes and strongly supported by Chesapeake City Councilwoman Dr. Ella Ward, provided nasal-swab tests for 400 participants. Results were expected to be delivered confidentially in approximately 48 hours.
Participants received food boxes, hand sanitizer, face masks, and other items through partnerships with the Southeastern Virginia Food Bank, Chesapeake Office of Emergency Management, the Governor’s Office and other organizations.
Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the COVID-19 Equity Task Force arranged for 20,000 masks and 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to be donated to the City of Chesapeake for those at elevated risk of death from COVID-19.
Gov. Northam joined the staff at the tent of the Urban League of Hampton Roads and passed out masks and other PPE to city residents. During his remarks to the media, Gov. Northam said that he has been monitoring the escalating number of positive COVID-19 cases in Hampton Roads and he warned that he might have to put the area back on Phase 1 or Phase 2 status to contain the spread of the coronavirus if the people in the Hampton Roads don’t follow state and CDC guidelines.
Gov. Northam thanked Delegate Cliff Hayes for organizing this event and he thanked Councilwoman Dr. Ella Ward, and Chesapeake Health Department Director Dr. Nancy Welch for all of their support and help to make this event occur. Bringing COVID-19 testing to at-risk and underserved neighborhoods throughout Chesapeake has been a priority for all involved. Successful testing events have already occurred at MacDonald Manor, Geneva Square, The Mount in Chesapeake, and the Chesapeake Rx Pharmacy.
Delegate Hayes and Councilwoman Dr. Ward spoke by way of cell phone to New Journal and Guide publisher Brenda Andrews during the COVID-19 testing at the Cuffee Center and thanked her for covering this event for the Hampton Roads community.