Wilson County has 2nd highest COVID rate in state, but officials say it's improving

WILSON COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- When you look at the state COVID-19 county alert map, two local counties stand out.

Bladen County is red with the highest infection rate in the state. Wilson County is orange with the second-highest.

Officials in Wilson say while the latest data show a marked improvement, they are still pushing hard for more people to get vaccinated.

Wilson is rural and many sections are poor and underserved. So there's an all-out effort to get vaccine to them.

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"We were able to break some of the biggest barriers that were inhibiting people from getting vaccinated," pharmacist Ijeoma Uwakwe told ABC11.

Uwakwe is the owner of the Wilson Value Drug Store. Her customers include a large number of Black and underserved residents of Wilson County.

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These days she has one main goal.

"To ensure that people were able to get vaccinated, who otherwise would not have been able to get vaccinated," Uwakwe said.

Uwakwe is also a member of the Wilson County Board of Health.

Like a lot of county officials, she was disheartened to see the county show up on the state's COVID map with the second-highest rate of infection.

So were county officials like Assistant County Manager Ron Hunt who said, "We are not seeing those numbers, how the state has it calculated. So while we can always do better, our percent of positivity is 3.5%. We're only averaging five cases a day."

Two weeks ago, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services data showed COVID-19 was picking up in Wilson County, which health officials say was related to a cluster connected to a youth summer camp.

Now, as Hunt points out, COVID-19 infection rates have slowed.

But Monday night, Wilson's health director Teresa Ellen told county commissioners that like for most of the nation, there's a new threat.

"The Delta variant is the dominant variant in the state now and we do know that it is more contagious so I just can't say enough or request enough that folks please consider being vaccinated," said Ellen.

Right now, Wilson County ranks right about in the middle of the state's vaccination data at 37% fully vaccinated.

But for those on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle, it's not nearly enough.

"Every citizen deserves the right to be protected. And this vaccine is the way out of this pandemic. And this vaccine is the way to stay healthy," Hunt said.

And he and Uwakwe pledged to do all they can to make sure the vaccination rate increases.

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