Blog Posts > COVID Highlighted West Virginia’s Racial Health Disparities, but Lawmakers Haven’t Acted on a Bill to Help
March 25, 2021

COVID Highlighted West Virginia’s Racial Health Disparities, but Lawmakers Haven’t Acted on a Bill to Help

Mountain State Spotlight, Beckley Register-Herald – Six weeks after Gov. Jim Justice began his daily pandemic press briefings, Marion County resident Romelia Hodges was frustrated. Read the full article.

It was a month to-the-day after West Virginia had lost its first resident to the virus: 88-year-old Viola York Horton, a Black woman from Fairmont who loved to sing and dance. And despite decades of health and economic inequity, piled on top of emerging research that COVID-19 disproportionately impacted Black communities, Justice had yet to publicly address the role of race in the pandemic.

“African American communities across the state of WV are reporting delays in testing and obstacles when trying to receive adequate testing. These obstacles and impediments are time-consuming and eat away at the precious time needed to address the immediate health concerns of this vulnerable population,” Hodges wrote in an email to West Virginia coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh on April 29, complete with a plan to establish a pandemic task force to address the needs and vulnerabilities of minority populations.

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