Drive-thrus are not just for fast food anymore. While many local restaurants have adopted the drive-up method, they aren’t the only ones utilizing curbside service. On May 23, around 300 local residents were tested for COVID-19 without having to leave their vehicles. Testing for the virus was conducted as part of a collaboration between Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, the University of Virginia Health System and the Virginia Department of Health at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.
Dr. Cameron Webb, a candidate for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, helped spearhead the event. “This is one of those events that doesn’t have a brand of like this organization’s leading it because it’s been such a collaboration,” he said. “This is really Charlottesville at its best all coming together to work for the common good.”
In addition to testing, the event aimed to serve as a resource for community members. Informational flyers were handed out to attendees, as well as food if needed. “Anybody who tests positive today, they’re going to have access to kind of a navigator who’s going to help them get resources with regard to food, housing, income, really the range of things they may need to help get them through those 14 days,” Webb said.
The Charlottesville Food Justice Network and Cultivate Charlottesville provided healthy food to anyone that wanted it while testing was going on. In recent weeks, the organizations have worked to supplement communities whose preexisting food insecurity has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“It’s just a complete community effort, something that I believe to be one of the best things that we have been able to do collectively as a city,” said Wes Bellamy, former Charlottesville city councilor.
National and local data has shown disparities in the infection rate of Black and brown communities. As such, while the drive-thru testing was for anyone who dropped by, there was a focus on communities of color. “Today you see the University of Virginia Medical Center and all of their partners putting together a phenomenal community event testing the community of color,” Bellamy said.