RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A major effort is underway in Southeast Raleigh to distribute face masks to the 27610 zip code, where the state has observed the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases.
The city of Raleigh, Wake County and WakeMed Hospital are collaborating for a pilot program that aims to distribute 30,000 masks throughout the area. More than 5,000 masks have been given out already.
RELATED: WakeMed, community partners to distribute 10,000 masks, will focus on 27610 zip code where there is a high number of cases
"A good portion of that is right in our backyard," said Donald Gintzig, president and CEO of WakeMed. "What we know is that many need access, not just to the social distance education, but also access to the personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer and masks."
Gintzig hopes to ramp up the program to be able to distribute 100,000.
"It's not just about slowing the spread among the general population it's really (about) helping slow it for those most vulnerable that end up needing hospitalizations and more acute treatment," he said.
Diana Powell, a long-time community activist in Southeast Raleigh, said she's tried to hand out as many masks as she can during the pandemic.
"It is imperative that we educate our community: that it is a must," she said. "In order for us to come out from under this thing, we have to protect ourselves and protect our loved ones."
On Saturday, you can get a free mask at the drive-thru testing site at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alpha Kappa Alpha is doing a community outreach from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Gethsemane Seventh Day Adventist is handing them out at their food drive from 12:30 p.m. until they are gone.
Masks will only be distributed in the 27610 zip code for now. Community partners will continue to work collaboratively to set up additional distribution opportunities throughout the county.
More locations for you to pick up a mask will be shared in the coming days.
WakeMed distributes free face masks in southeast Raleigh, 4th highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state