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White House COVID Advisor To Tell Fauquier NAACP Country In A Syndemic

Friday, 7PM, in Annual Freedom Fund Celebration Keynote

Webb: "Housing is health."

by Leland Schwartz, Fauquier Channel One

Charlottesville -- Dr. Cameron Webb, Director, Health Policy and Equity at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity, says the country is not just in a pandemic, but a syndemic.

That is at the core of the message he will share Friday evening in the keynote address to the NAACP Fauquier County Branch's Annual Freedom Fund Celebration.

This year's event will be held online here. Its theme is affordable housing, and the work of the Fauquier NAACP Housing Committee, co-chaired by Margaret Strano and Conway Porter, will be highlighted.

"This isn't just a pandemic of COVID-19, it's a syndemic," Dr. Webb said Wednesday. "It's all of the challenges in our society coming together, coalescing in one place, and it's requiring leaders and communities to step up and advocate for the future that we need now."

"We have the health issue, the pandemic itself, but alongside it we have issues with housing, issues with food access, and issues with the education system, and they have an interplay with the pandemic that really creates cracks in our society," he said.

(The medical definition of syndemic is a set of linked health problems involving two or more afflictions, interacting synergistically, and contributing to excess burden of disease in a population. For example, the SAVA syndemic is comprised of substance abuse, violence, and AIDS, three conditions that disproportionately afflict those living in poverty in US cities. From syn-, together + (epi)-demic.)

Regarding affordable housing, Webb said the eviction moratoriums are critical and the overall problem needs to be solved. "What it speaks to is a much broader issue that yes, the pandemic made it harder, especially early on, but folks haven't been able to afford where they live and people have been priced out of communities where they grew up, where their families have history and legacy and memories."

And more than that, Webb said, is "the very basic function that we need to have spaces where people have the opportunity to live, to grow their families, and still participate meaningfully in society, and I think that's becoming too far and few between."

"As we often say in the social determinants of health space," Webb said, "housing is health in so many ways."

The Branch's Debra Copeland, who chairs the Communications Committee, said a new feature on Fauquier NAACP's website, the Housing Corner, "offers resources to people facing housing insecurity as well as information to those who would like to advocate for affordable housing or be educated on the need, which is great."

A Zoom link will be provided to those who make reservations. Tickets are $50 for adults/$25 for students.

Fauquier NAACP’s community activity in the past year has included advocating for fair housing rights, holding public health forums, and feeding those with need during the pandemic, awarding scholarships at all three local high schools, and building relationships with local law enforcement.

This year, for the first time, the Branch will present a Distinguished Citizen Service Award to a deserving member of the community.

The Freedom Fund event is Fauquier NAACP’s only yearly fundraiser. As a nonprofit, it relies on donations from individuals and businesses to fund its programs and outreach.

  • Tickets may be purchased online here.

  • Donations may be made online here or by mailing checks to Fauquier NAACP, P. O. Box 82, Bealeton, VA 22712.

  • Businesses interested in being sponsors of the event should contact Robert Copeland, Freedom Fund Committee Chair, at

  • Facebook link to event.

The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.


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