FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — During a stop in Fayetteville to tour the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Crown Complex Friday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper emphasized the need to continue following health protocols, including the mask mandate, and encouraged everyone to get the vaccine.

Cooper says the state is beginning to turn the corner in the pandemic.

“Our numbers and declining and stabilizing and that is good news, but we are not yet out of the woods,” Cooper said. “We have variants that are here in North Carolina.”

During the tour, Cooper said the state has been leading the way when it comes to transparency by providing data on how many people from different races have been vaccinated.

“I want to make sure that this is fast and fair, that we get the vaccine off the shelf and into arms before the next shipment comes, and that we make sure those arms look like the people of North Carolina,” Cooper said. “We are excited that we are seeing significant progress and erosion of skepticism, which we want to continue to see.”

Nearly 10 percent of the Black population in Cumberland County has received at least one vaccine dose, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Cumberland County Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Green says they’re working with community partners to ensure marginalized populations have access to the vaccine.

“We know they have been the hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of the number of cases and also the number of deaths,” Dr. Green said.

Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charles Evans and Commissioner Toni Stewart are working with the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials to encourage more African-Americans to take the vaccine.

“A lot of people in the Black community for them it comes down to trust. Can we trust that this vaccine is safe?” Stewart said. “Although I had some reluctance, I had to weigh that against death, the health of my family, the health of my mother who lives with me, and so it was for the greater good that I went ahead and took the vaccination.”

Cumberland County officials say almost 34 percent of first doses have been administered to Black people, who make up 39 percent of the county’s population.

“Numbers are going down so we have to trust and believe that this vaccination is going to continue that downward trend,” Evans said. “Please feel free to talk to your doctors, get their opinions, pray over it.”

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also toured the clinic Friday.

“I particularly want to thank Dr. Green and the rest of the public health department and all of their staff for doing such a terrific job in getting the vaccine in arms, not just quickly, but also equitably,” Cohen said. 

“We are proud to show them an example of the heroic efforts of public health staff and our critical team of partners that are helping us make our community safer — one shot at a time,” Dr. Green added.