Citing health disparities, a Suffolk grandmother says COVID does not discriminate


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Christmas was a joyous time for 52-year-old Tammy Gilchrist and her seven grandchildren. But last week, 1-year-old Mecca tested positive for COVID- 19. That meant grandma had to get tested right away.

(Photo courtesy: Tammy Gilchrist)

“Everybody was racing to 7-Eleven trying to find a kit,” said Gilchrist.

She couldn’t find one, but a friend had a spare.

“I was positive yes. I had no symptoms. I didn’t run a fever; I haven’t had anything,” said Gilchrist in a Zoom interview.

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The concerned grandmother called 10 On Your Side to raise awareness about the plight of people in the underserved communities of Suffolk. The City of Suffolk website directs residents to Norfolk and nearby chain drug stores for coronavirus testing.

“You have a lot of people don’t have transportation to Military Circle or other sites they have in the surrounding cities of counties. You have a lot of older people who need to make appointments with Rite Aid, Walgreens, CVS, wherever but they don’t know how to use the computer and they don’t even know how to do it on their phones,” Gilchrist said.

A person takes a COVID-19 test. (Getty Images)

Because of the disparities, this grandmother is calling on the state to improve the process.

“It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you are in, what color you are. Everybody should be treated fairly because I tell you that COVID does not discriminate,” Gilchrist said.

This grandmother works two part-time jobs and is without a paycheck until she can return to work after getting a negative COVID-19 test.

She has contacted Suffolk Social Services to determine whether financial assistance is available while she is in isolation.

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