After North Carolina has broken a record for the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and daily COVID-19 admissions, Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley visited a Lenoir County COVID-19 vaccine and testing site in Kinston. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more.
The youth-led nonprofit Kinston Teens and the City of Kinston held two events Thursday, offering COVID-19 vaccine doses, boosters and PCR and rapid testing to the Kinston community. City Council member Chris Suggs, the youngest currently elected official in North Carolina, is the founder of Kinston Teens.
“As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has extremely impacted our communities. Especially small communities like Kinston are already home to many health issues and health disparities so, to be able to provide this testing and vaccination opportunity, increasing vaccine equity, especially in marginalized communities means a lot for us as an organization and as the City of Kinston.”
He says these events are consistently well attended.
“We make sure to host those events in fun and familiar locations like Holloway Recreation Center here, at Southeast Elementary School in Kinston as well as churches and other parks.”
Suggs says familiar faces help with turnout too.
“Like myself, members of our organization who are from the ages of 12 to 22 years old. So, our classmates and friends from high school, folks we play with are coming in, hanging out with us and getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
Gov. Roy Cooper attended one of these events, at the Holloway Recreation Center.
“Some people who are unsure can be persuaded by Chris’ voice or one of these other teen’s voice, even more than mine. Because people are trusted in the community, that’s why I’m so glad that Kinston teens is here to do this.”
Cooper addressed a crowd in the rec center about the increased case numbers across the state and the importance of COVID-19 vaccination and testing.
“One of the reasons that I am here, and one of the reasons we are working so hard is we want to keep people who catch COVID from getting severely ill, from having to go to the ICU and from dying. And it can be a real love letter to health care workers for people to get vaccinated and boosted.”
According to the latest report from the Lenoir County Health Department, there’s been an increase of COVID cases, with over 800 active cases and a positive test rate of almost 22%. Vaccination rates have also increased slightly — 53% of residents are fully vaccinated.
Suggs says Kinston Teens reaches people through social media and knocking on doors to let them know about COVID-19 testing and vaccine events. This was the 14th event that Kinston Teens has hosted.
For Public Radio East, I’m Meredith Radford