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Portsmouth COVID-19 positivity rate doubles state average; local doctors believe access to test plays a role

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Posted at 11:08 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 23:10:33-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The fear of getting COVID-19 is a real feeling on the Southside.

“A lot of our citizens, they are scared. We are losing a lot of family members in the City of Portsmouth to COVID-19,” said Barry Randall.

Randall, also known as the "People’s Pastor," is a community activist.

“I know of a person who passed away from it within the last week. It’s very devastating,” he adds.

As of Wednesday morning, there are 21 coronavirus-related deaths in Portsmouth.

The number of people testing positive continues to rise.

The average percentage positivity rate last month was a little more than 7%. Today, that number is climbing and sits at almost 17%.

The state average is at 7.1%.

"There is a record number of people in Portsmouth, but we are talking about hundreds of people and not thousands,” said Dr. Vladmir Markovic. He is the chief medical officer at Hampton Roads Community Health Center.

The rise in cases is still a concern for Dr. Markovic. He believes people are starting to get COVID-19 fatigue.

"They are just getting so exhausted, like, ‘I need a day,’ and that day you let your guard down can be the day you actually get sick,” he adds.

The center offers free testing to underserved communities without insurance.

“A lot of people who live in Portsmouth are going to be in a lower socioeconomic class. They have a lot of hurdles to jump over. They don’t have money to just go tested at an urgent care center,” Dr. Markovic.

Leaders with the center say they don’t want accessibility to be the reason why someone doesn’t get tested for COVID-19. That’s why they are offering free rides to the center to get tested. And you don’t have to live in Portsmouth - you can live anywhere in the area.

Related: Hampton Roads sees increase in COVID-19 percentage positive rates, higher than state average

Randall hopes to see more testing sites come to areas that need the help the most.

For more on the services the Hampton Roads Community Services have to offer, click here.

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