Sen. Warner's Roundtable Discussion in Harrisonburg

Aug 14, 2020

Senator Mark Warner and Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed at the roundtable discussion Thursday, Aug. 13.
Credit Calvin Pynn

Senator Mark Warner sat down with Harrisonburg community leaders on Thursday to discuss health care concerns and explore solutions to the pandemic crisis. WMRA’s Calvin Pynn reports.

Equity was a top concern during a discussion that focused on the impact of COVID-19 in Harrisonburg. 

MARK WARNER: There’s been a regular debate about giving hazard of duty pay to front line workers. We also know that COVID has not fallen evenly across the whole community.

As the Senator addressed city council members, public health workers, and educators, he gave updates on various projects he’s working on to ease those inequities. That includes efforts to help Black and other minority-owned businesses stay afloat during the pandemic, expanding broadband, and ensuring access to a vaccine when it is made public.

With the school year fast approaching, that’s a major concern for Michael Richards, superintendent of Harrisonburg Public Schools.

MICHAEL RICHARDS:  One of my biggest fears is vaccinations, not just in terms of what they need to start school, but equitable distribution of vaccinations when they’re available for the disease. I don’t trust what’s going on in Washington right now in terms of looking at where those vaccinations are gonna be needed most.

Vice Mayor Sal Romero advocated for undocumented families in the city who missed out on the first round of stimulus payments in the CARES Act.

SAL ROMERO: A lot of our families are frontline workers, they’re essential, they have not stopped working, which means they have had to deal with all the extra expenses because their children have not been able to be in school. We have to make sure that when the next batch of money comes, that every person in our community, regardless of documented or undocumented status. 

While the Senate is working to address those and other needs, Warner said the most immediate priority should be agreeing on a new coronavirus aid package.

WARNER: I’ve been frustrated with the White House, but it’s time to move past frustrations, people’s lives are at stake. There are too many lives in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County that you guys deal with every day that are waiting for this additional assistance.