RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Off Rock Quarry Road in southeast Raleigh, shoppers moved through Southgate Plaza Shopping Center, Friday night. Many of them unaware they were in the middle of North Carolina's largest COVID-19 hot spot.
The 27610 zip code, which stretches from east to southeast Raleigh, down into parts of Garner has the highest COVID-19 numbers in the state: 2,985 cases; 46 people have died.
"We've seen in the last four weeks, the percentages have grown," said Kelly Wright at Advance Community Health, a southeast Raleigh-based community health center dedicated to serving patients no matter their ability to pay for care. Many Advance patients survive on low-incomes or are experiencing homelessness.
Black and brown patients were already contracting COVID-19 at disproportionate rates. In the 27610 zip code, over 64% of the population is African-American; over 15% is Latin X. But, based on the over 15,000 tests completed by Advance since April, Kelly suspects it's the large number of essential workers in the zip code that's the driving up the COVID-19 caseload.
"We know that a lot of the minorities in our communities don't have the option to work from home, so they're having to work and be exposed more often," Wright said. "So we think maybe that's the reason cases are skewing high because of essential care that people need."
Two nursing homes in the zip codes have had COVID-19 outbreaks since April, but none are currently ongoing.
Meanwhile, Advance Community Health continues to stress the need for testing. It's been staging daily testing sites through Wake and Franklin Counties, with larger-scale events planned for this weekend in Raleigh:
Saturday, Nov. 14
Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School
2600 Rock Quarry Road
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 15
Consulate of Mexico
431 Raleigh View Road
9 a.m. - 2 p.m.