Arlington County Government, Arlington Public Schools and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) are collaborating to increase access to COVID support services in communities disproportionately affected by the virus as part of the state’s Health Equity Pilot Program.
“Health equity means everyone has access to the conditions needed for optimal health and well-being. It acknowledges and aims to address systemic barriers to achieving this, including social structures that lead to differences in health outcomes by income, race, gender, educational attainment, sexual orientation, immigration status, and more,” said Dr. Aaron Miller, Director of the County Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management.
The program details a three-pronged approach to bring testing, information, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to areas that census and health data highlighted as at greater risk for COVID-19:
- Arlington Public Schools will distribute approximately 11,000 informational and cloth face covering kits to students and their families at schools serving communities disproportionately impacted by COVID 19. The kits contain hand sanitizer, reusable face coverings, and multilingual information about COVID support like rent and food assistance.
- The COVID-19 sample collection site at Arlington Mill Community Center will offer extended hours to expand access to additional clients. Beginning September 14, the site will offer evening hours (1-7pm) on the second and fourth Monday of each month and will open for weekend hours (8am-12pm) on the first Saturday of the month.
- The County will bring informational and cloth face covering kits and one-day testing events to vulnerable communities to provide services directly to those who may have reduced access to them otherwise.
“We will not beat this pandemic without providing equitable access to the conditions needed to control and prevent COVID-19 spread. Our residents most at risk for COVID-19 exposure need this further increase in testing access to identify cases and their close contacts,” said Dr. Reuben Varghese, Public Health Division Director. “We’re all better off when everyone in our community can get the resources they need to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. We’re thankful that our partnership with APS and VDEM will help bring these services where they’re needed most.”