The Phase One reopening of Virginia – minus Northern Virginia – will require a cautionary approach by all, especially in Virginia’s urban crescent, according to Virginia Tech’s finance expert Derek Klock.

“The I-95 corridor, through Richmond and down to Tidewater as a whole seems to average much higher infection rates per 100,000, as do parts of the Shenandoah,” said Klock.  “Areas west, including the western end of the Southside, the Roanoke Valley, the New River Valley, Mountain Empire and the far southwest seem to be in better shape right this moment.”

“As hard as this is to say in a free and democratic society, it will be imperative that society geographically segments itself and adheres to the guidelines established for their particular region. This split reopening will be undermined if people freely move between areas,” he said.

Klock, a professor of practice of finance in the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business says the key factor to know if Phase One reopening is working is simply the number of new infections.

“Unfortunately, with the delay of symptom onset or asymptomatic people catching a rebound in infection rate, early detection will not be easy,” he said.  “People need to be careful.  Prudent caution is a must.  And, just because the shelter-in-place orders are being relaxed and we can start resuming more normal routine doesn’t mean we should.”

Klock also shares concerns that as workers are called back to jobs, a substantial share of people of color are put at risk.   He reports that according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people of non-European heritage are (1) typically at higher risk of unemployment; (2) more likely to work in lower paying jobs; (3) are more likely to work in jobs where social distancing is hard such as animal slaughter, food service, and manufacturing.  These groups, especially Hispanics and Blacks, are also less likely to have adequate health insurance or access to medical care, according the U.S. Census Bureau.

“As Phase One moves forward, it will be important to monitor the data in ways that safeguard and protect everyone, but especially those workers in high risk occupation that predominately come from communities of color,” said Klock.

Derek Klock’s background

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To secure a live or recorded interview with Derek Klock, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.  

[More: Find additional Virginia Tech expertise related to COVID-19 here.] 

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