Harrisonburg city staff pack thousands of care kits thanks to state donations

City of Harrisonburg staff and volunteers pack care kits for distribution throughout the...
City of Harrisonburg staff and volunteers pack care kits for distribution throughout the community. | Credit: City of Harrisonburg(WHSV)
Published: May. 5, 2020 at 3:05 PM EDT
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Thanks to a donation of thousands of face masks and hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer, the city of Harrisonburg is planning to start distributing new COVID-19 care kits to select neighborhoods across the city this week.

According to a statement from the city, the COVID-19 Health Equity Working Group of Virginia’s Unified Command donated around 15,000 disposable face masks and hundreds of hand sanitizer bottles to the city. Walmart and the Garber family, which ran the recently-closed Red Front Supermarket, provided thousands of bags.

On Tuesday, city staff members stuffed 1,100 care kits with the supplies: 500 of which contain 14 masks each and information in five languages about how to prevent COVID-19, while the other 600 contain a bottle of hand sanitizer in addition to the masks and flyers.

Later this week, delivery teams will go door-to-door in Harrisonburg's culturally diverse neighborhoods to drop off the supplies, while wearing PPE and practicing social distancing.

The city says Mayor Deanna Reed worked closely with Dr. Janice Underwood, Virginia’s chief diversity officer to Gov. Ralph Northam, to set up the initiative and obtain the donations.

“As we all work together to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the Harrisonburg community, it is of the utmost importance that we take whatever steps necessary to engage with our most at-risk residents and ensure they have every opportunity to protect the health and wellness of themselves, their loved ones and their neighborhoods,” Mayor Reed said. “Individuals who do not have easy access to health care due to economic considerations or language barriers need our support at this time more than ever. We are extremely grateful for Dr. Underwood and the Virginia Health Equity Task Force for the commitment they have made to support the people of The Friendly City.”

The care kits are a part of the city's continued efforts to reach diverse neighborhoods and Harrisonburg residents who speak English as a second language or not at all.

Over the past weeks, Harrisonburg has sent out public service announcements in the five languages spoken most commonly in the city.

This past weekend, the city

, giving residents who may not otherwise be able to get tested the chance.

That resulted in more than 80 people receiving tests in the city's Mosby Court and Northeast neighborhood areas.

"One of the priorities of the equity task force is to intentionally collaborate with local governments to provide support to vulnerable communities because we know that everyone does not enjoy the same privileges for social distancing or receive information the same way,” Dr. Underwood said. “Therefore, we provide localities access to health equity training for all city employees and volunteers, personal protective equipment, culturally appropriate educational materials to support diverse communities, and support in identifying neighborhoods at elevated risk with mapping technology."

As of May 5, the city of Harrisonburg

, with 525 total cases confirmed. The Virginia Department of Health reports at least 31 cumulative hospitalizations and 19 deaths in the city.

“Because of Mayor Reed and her team’s leadership and laser-focused commitment to the Harrisonburg community, the equity task force was able to move quickly in support of the residents in the area who needed the most help," Dr. Underwood continued.

The City of Harrisonburg urges all city residents to continue following the

on hand-washing and social distancing, as well as to continue following Gov. Northam's Stay at Home order and executive order banning gatherings of more than 10 people.