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In order to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end, public health experts say between 75 and 80 percent of Americans will need to get the vaccine. Early on, doctors worried that Black Americans especially would hesitate to get a vaccine due to medical racism and abuse in the past. But in fact, the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy — in Virginia, anyway — are among White Republicans in rural areas. 

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Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s state vaccine coordinator, said last Friday that by mid-April, Virginians in category 1c will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 jab. Group 1c includes essential workers in energy, construction, food service, transportation, higher education, finance, legal services, public safety, information technology and media. The window for that group will be relatively short, Avula said, and by May 1, every adult in the commonwealth will be eligible for a vaccine.

Nearly a year into the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government is continuing to dispense monetary assistance for businesses hit by the economic downturn and widespread restrictions on their operations. But banks servicing Rappahannock County say the uptake has been slower this time than with the first round of assistance last April, when businesses flooded them with applications and overloaded their online systems.

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 The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has picked up speed in Virginia recently. More doses are expected to arrive in the coming weeks and a new statewide registration system is up and running. More pharmacies, including Walgreens, Walmart, Food Lion, Martin’s, Harris Teeter and Kroger are approved to begin providing shots in the coming weeks and community groups are offering to help sign people up.

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According to Superintendent Russell Gilkison, roughly a third of the staff at Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail have elected to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But those 400 or so inmates are still waiting. “We’re working with the local health department and Warren County’s emergency manager to figure out how the vaccinations are going to occur and when they’re going to occur,” Gilkison said. “Unfortunately I think there’s some accessibility [issues] to deal with.” 

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In-Depth Reporting

In-Depth Reporting

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