CANTON, Ohio — COVID-19 cases are starting to ramp up nationwide. According to John Hopkins University, there was a 47% increase in cases within the past seven days compared to the week before.
Doctors are now pushing harder to get more people vaccinated as they say it’s key to slowing down the virus and Delta variant.
Now, there’s a similar push happening in Northeast Ohio.
While 48% of the population in Ohio has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Stark County and Canton city continue to trail the statewide average. However, a new campaign is focusing on closing the vaccine gap.
“We have to do a lot more,” said Canton City Health Commissioner, James Adams.
Canton's city health department is partnering with several organizations, including the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority, kicking off a new "Vax on the Spot” campaign. Through the campaign, their teams are launching free, mobile pop-up vaccine sites around the city this week offering Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
"Ohio's overall vaccination rates are lagging behind many other states in the United States and Stark County's is a little bit lower than the average vaccination rate for Ohio,” said Adams.
The sites include areas near public schools, parks and food banks with incentives like $50 gift cards for Medicaid and MyCare members, free vision screenings for kids and adults, free reading glasses, and food bags with fresh produce and packaged items.
“The areas that we selected had the lowest amounts of vaccine coverage that we can determine. And we also looked at other social vulnerability indicators in the community and found out that they had either low car ownership rates or other mobility issues,” Adams explained. “We think that if you do incentives, they need to be significant enough to make a difference and also to help people where they need help.”
At the vaccination sites on Tuesday and Wednesday, football fans also have a chance to meet with Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman Anthony Munoz.
"To me, that says 'Not only are we here for you to have this free vaccination but we care about you and we’re willing to give you a few little perks,'" he said.
At the Gibbs Elementary School site, several lined up to step on the bus. It's a neighborhood with a vaccination rate of about 20%.
"It’s one of the lowest rates in the city," Adams added.
For Darren Tyson, it’s was a personal decision, honoring his mother who died after contracting COVID-19 last November.
"Dead in two weeks, and she went through it," he said.
Residents must be 18 or older to get the free vaccines and incentives and bring an ID. No appointments are needed. The city's health department will be offering both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots.
“We have plenty of tents. We have a large bus that people can get out of the rain on. And we hope people will come out and either answer their questions and decide to be vaccinated,” said Adams.
Tmes and locations include:
Tuesday, July 13
- 10–11:30 a.m.— Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank - 1365 Cherry Ave. NE, Canton, OH 44714
- 12–1:30 p.m.—Gibbs Elementary School - 1320 Gibbs Ave NE, Canton, OH 44705
Wednesday, July 14
- 10–11:30 a.m.—Monument Park – 7th Street NW & Kennet Ct. NW, Canton, OH 44708
- 12–1:30 p.m.—Clarendon Elementary School – 412 Clarendon Ave. NW, Canton, OH 44708
- 2–3:30 p.m.—Canton Lincoln Highway Station – 1315 Tuscarawas St. W, Canton, OH 44702 (Corner of Tuscarawas St. W and Brown Ave. NW)
Thursday, July 15
- 10–11:30 a.m.—Dueber Elementary School – 815 Dueber Ave. SW, Canton, OH 44706
- 12–1:30 p.m.—McKinley Park Apartments – 510 High Ave. SW, Canton, OH 44707
- 2–3:30 p.m.—Canton Arts Academy at Summit – 1100 10th St. NW, Canton, OH 44703