Gov. Cooper visits New Hanover County vaccine site as distribution slows

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper toured the MLK Center vaccination site in Wilmington and thanked volunteers and county officials for the work trying to vaccinate as many adults as possible. His visit comes as the NCDHHS reports that half of all adults in the state have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

“I think we’re seeing the evidence clearly that this is something we need to do,” said Cooper. “It’s safe and effective and I believe we’re going to have more success in getting it done.”

While vaccine rollout has slowed across the state, Cooper said he plans to work with community leaders to distribute the vaccine to those hit hardest by the pandemic.

“We saw this pandemic hit our communities of color hard and we knew that it was critically important to make sure that people who otherwise may not have good opportunities to get healthcare would be able to get it, and also would be able to have a vaccine available,” said Cooper.

One of the ways Wilmington and the rest of New Hanover County plans to increase the number of vaccines being given out is to make the shot even more accessible to residents.

“This vaccine drive taking place at the city’s Martin Luther King Center is a perfect example of meeting our residents where they live with the resources they need to beat COVID-19,” said Wilmington mayor Bill Saffo.

During a press conference outside the MLK center Thursday afternoon, Cooper noted that he hopes the state can navigate out of the pandemic and solve some of the issues that have come to light because of it.

“This pandemic is shining a light on a lot of inequities that were here before,” said Cooper. “Shining a light on the need for high-speed Internet all across our state, shining a light on the inequities in our communities of color, shining a light on efforts that we need to make to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to get health insurance.”

Cooper and city officials used today’s tour of the vaccination site to show their gratitude for those who have sacrificed their time to help run the vaccine site, from school nurses to members of the National Guard.

“We have an incredible team of public servants and I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate our entire New Hanover County staff for all they have done to support our community throughout the pandemic,” said Julia Olson-Boseman, chair of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.

As the Cape Fear community prepares to enter the second straight summer with pandemic restrictions in place, Cooper said he plans to lift more restrictions beginning on June 1, but did not give a specific timeline for when he may end the indoor mask mandate.

“It’s recommended that when you’re in crowds outdoors that you have a mask, but the fact of the matter is that we need to get people to have more confidence in being able to go out and participate in society, and one way that can happen is when people are vaccinated,’ said Cooper.

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