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In Richmond, 8 in 10 cases are Black or Latino; positive test rate increases for city, decreases statewide

In Richmond, 8 in 10 cases are Black or Latino; positive test rate increases for city, decreases statewide

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As the overall number of positive COVID-19 test results in Virginia grows, data from the Virginia Department of Health shows the percentage of positive results from testing is down. The seven-day average for percentage of positive test results was at 7.3% as of Aug. 8, which is the most recent figure provided by the VDH. That’s down from a peak of 20.8% on April 21.

But for Richmond, the positive test rate is increasing. Its seven-day average for positive test results is 8.6%, which Dr. Melissa Viray, deputy director of Richmond’s health district, said is a higher percentage than usual. Viray, who spoke Wednesday at a news conference, said this number can be curbed by increasing access to testing.

As of Wednesday, Richmond had conducted 37,804 coronavirus tests.

“We seem to have crested maybe the current surge,” Viray said. “It continues to be critical that we adhere to social distancing, wearing our face coverings and making choices that allow us to be where we need to be.”

Viray added that COVIDWISE, an app that alerts users in Virginia to potential exposure to the virus, has been downloaded more than 300,000 times and can limit spread as use continues.

Black and Latino residents in Richmond continue to face the brunt of the coronavirus and make up 80% of cases, with Black Richmonders accounting for 61% of deaths. At Wednesday’s news conference, Mayor Levar Stoney said he’s focused on establishing safety nets for residents facing financial hardship, including Black and Latino populations.

He referenced $14 million, awarded through federal money and grants, focused on an eviction diversion program and rental assistance.

“The last thing we need is for people to be left out in the cold, or as you can see, the heat,” Stoney said. “In the middle of the pandemic, housing security is of utmost priority.”

On Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court extended the state’s eviction ban until Sept. 7, pointing to the ease with which the virus spreads and acknowledging that travel in and out of courthouses could increase health risks.

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Overall, the Virginia Department of Health on Wednesday reported 102,521 total cases statewide — a 776-case jump from Tuesday — and eight more deaths, bringing the total to 2,352 deaths. More than 2,200 are confirmed; 114 are probable. Over 1,200 of those deaths were in long-term care facilities.

The VDH defines probable cases as people who are symptomatic with a known exposure to COVID-19 but whose cases have not been confirmed with a positive test.

Richmond has 3,248 cases, 803 of which are in the 20-29 age group. It also has 41 deaths, of which 25 are Black people.

The Chesterfield Health District, which includes Colonial Heights and Powhatan County, has 4,829 cases, with Black and Latino residents making up nearly 63% of the cases. The Chesterfield Health District also has 106 deaths.

Henrico County has 3,968 cases and 186 deaths, and Hanover County has 660 cases and 33 deaths.

State health officials have said there’s a lag in the reporting of statewide numbers on the VDH website. Figures on the website might not include cases or deaths reported by localities or local health districts.

smoreno@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6103 Twitter: @sabrinaamorenoo

Staff writer Holly Prestidge contributed to this report.

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