|GOV. JUSTICE ANNOUNCES TARGETED TESTING IN AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
Also today, Gov. Justice announced that he has directed targeted testing to begin in several African American communities in West Virginia.This enhanced testing will be a main focus of the newly-established COVID-19 Advisory Commission on African American Disparities – a task force administered by the WV DHHR with the mission of investigating the effect of COVID-19 on African American communities across the state.
“We are looking at these communities and doing the prudent work that will enable us to ensure that we won’t have critical problems in those communities as well,” Gov. Justice said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minority groups is still emerging, current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups.
State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp and her staff at the West Virginia DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health have been compiling and analyzing data on the effect of COVID-19 in African American communities for the past several weeks.
“Based upon that data, we’ve begun the process of establishing specific areas in the state where we will increase testing,” DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said.
Sec. Crouch said that these increased testing efforts will initially be centered in Berkeley, Jefferson, Marion, Monongalia, and Raleigh counties. Additional counties or areas may be added in the future.
The DHHR plans to utilize the West Virginia National Guard’s mobile testing and drive-thru testing capabilities to enhance testing in these areas. Sec. Crouch added that some of these counties’ local health departments have already begun testing African American populations.
The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, under Executive Director Jill Upson, will help the DHHR and the task force coordinate public outreach and testing efforts across the state.
“We look forward to working with the task force and the results of our efforts to address the needs of the African American population,” Sec Crouch said.