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Facts & Faith Fridays covers COVID-19, affordable housing and access to fresh food

Feb 20, 2023


During the latest session of VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Facts & Faith Fridays (FFF) on Feb. 17, Christa-Marie Singleton, M.D., M.P.H., senior medical advisor to the CDC Office of the Associate Director for Policy and Strategy, provided an update on COVID-19, stating that the virus is not going anywhere anytime soon and to expect yearly vaccinations to become part of annual health recommendations. But she offered promising data about the efficacy of the latest vaccines.

She shared that vaccinated people who received an updated COVID-19 vaccine were 14 times less likely to die compared with those who did not receive a vaccine, and three times less likely to die than those who only received the original COVID-19 vaccine.

“This current [vaccine] formulation is still standing strong,” Singleton said. “It is still protecting people.”

She went on to add that the future blueprint for partnering with “trusted agents” in rural communities to disseminate reliable public health information nationwide should look to FFF as an exemplary model.

Mayor of Richmond Levar Stoney also participated in Friday’s call, commenting on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a resiliency developed by the city’s workforce and operations as a result.

“The city is now more prepared to handle a public health crisis than we ever were before,” Stoney said.

Stoney talked about Richmond and the region’s economic viability and expansion, underlining the increased urgency for dense, affordable housing to support the pace of the city’s growth.

“We have become a magnet for more and more people,” Stoney said, mentioning the need to create an abundance of additional housing with intentionality, fairness and equity to attract new residents while also making “room for those who are currently living in the city.”

Stoney also took a brief moment to address the recent killing of Tyre Nichols.

“I struggle to watch that video,” Stoney said. “What I saw was horrific and unacceptable.”

Looking forward, he stressed the need for heightened accountability within the Richmond Police Department as well as equal treatment of all city residents by law enforcement officers, regardless of income level, race or neighborhood.

Additionally, Rae Cousins, Richmond resident and Democratic candidate for the new 79th district seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, joined the FFF call to discuss her platform of fully funding schools, providing sustainable living wages, offering increased access to entrepreneurial opportunities and ensuring a clean, healthy environment for all residents.

Too many families are living in neighborhoods that don’t have access to affordable and healthy food, Cousins said. She identified this as a priority if elected, and said she would like to see more studies conducted into how the environment directly affects the health of the residents living in certain communities.

Written by: Blake Belden

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