Crater Health District officials prepare to test Emporia residents for COVID-19 by the old National Guard Armory in August.

No Virginia municipality has suffered more than Emporia when it comes to COVID-19 related deaths.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, COVID-19 related deaths in Emporia stand at 25. In a city with a population of slightly more than 5,000, that number is alarming. When averaged on a 100,000 population count, the number spikes to 488, surpassing the 467 per 100,000 in Galax. Earlier this month, Emporia Emergency Services Program Coordinator Mike Rae spoke of COVID-19 in the City.

“Nearly half of the COVID-positive citizens in the City of Emporia reside in a congregate setting, such as a nursing home or long-term Health Care facility,” Rae said. “There is cross-contaminating. We know the health inequities that are in Emporia. It’s well documented. Our death rate is high because our citizens have health issues. When they contract COVID, it’s becoming lethal. We can certainly talk about that, but I don’t know that we have an answer today, other than to remind people to stay healthy, and COVID may not affect you as badly.”

The VDH attributes 11 deaths as COVID-19 related in Greensville County. The mortality rate in the County is significantly lower than it is in the City. Still, in pure confirmed case count, Greensville’s 763 dwarfs Emporia’s 245. Greensville County has the most reported positive COVID-19 cases in the Crater Health District. A large number of positive cases are found in prison, another congregate setting.

County Emergency Services Coordinator Reggie Owens has been at the forefront in educating the public about safety precautions necessary to avoid catching the virus. During every Greensville County Board of Supervisors meeting, Owens preaches following Center for Disease Control guidelines on social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and wearing face coverings.

Owens and Rae coordinate work together for every COVID-19 testing and personal protection equipment giveaway event in Emporia-Greensville.

With news of a COVID-19 vaccine approval possibly on the horizon, Owens and Rae could oversee the beginning of the end of a chapter that has devastated the Emporia-Greensville community.