Southeast Raleigh teens take the lead at COVID-19 test site in their hard-hit ZIP code

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- At first glance, the COVID-19 testing site at Southeast Raleigh's Sanderford Road Park seems like all the others: the big tents and workers cloaked head-to-toe in PPE. But what makes this test site different is the workers behind those masks and face shields. They're teenagers -- Raleigh high schoolers, who are also residents here on the city's southeast side that is currently being ravaged by the coronavirus.

"Every day somebody dies from it and I just want to help the community," said Shanaya, a 9th grader at Broughton High School. She's seen the alarming metrics about the 27610 zip code --this stretch of Wake County from Southeast Raleigh into parts of Garner remains North Carolina's largest COVID-19 hot spot.

"It's really sad to see that we're the highest number," Shanaya said. "I wouldn't want any number to be the highest but it's sad that we're the top."



The majority of residents in the zip code are Black and brown people. There are 6,072 coronavirus cases so far; 53 people have died.

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"We're out here seven days a week," proclaimed Diana Powell, the community advocate who helped organize the partnership with Wake County and Vero Diagnostics for the no-cost testing. "The part that we came up with is with was to have our youth from our STEM program involved so that they can get the hands-on experience around covid-19."

You'll see Jordan Adams and his older brother Levonte at the site, six or seven days a week.

"When I first came it was a lot to jump into," said Jordon, who along with his brother balances remote learning with these part-time jobs handing the self-test kits to their neighbors and waiting for the samples. Some days they spend in the lab with the professionals taking in as much of the COVID science as they can.

"I've learned a lot. I've learned the different strains. I've learned the different ways to combat it," Levonte said. "I can't do a whole lot in the laboratory because I don't have a bio degree, but I can learn how to use the scientific instruments and we process the samples there."

Powell and her young team have also been plastering the zip code with flyers to get the word out about the free test site.

"I'm hoping that people will realize that because of what we're doing in the community that they should come out and take it more serious," Jordon said.

They say they're seeing about 100 cars a day for testing at Sanderford. But, looking at the metrics, the testing numbers should be higher.

Click here for a list of Wake County free COVID-19 test sites.
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