After Norfolk teen’s death, civil rights leader calls on Virginia to change its COVID-19 testing and vaccination model

Virginia News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Burying her 17-year-old daughter Schwanda is something Sherrell Corprew never imagined she would have to do. The Booker T. Washington student died July 30 from what the family initially thought was a cold. Instead, it was COVID-19.

Corprew’s attention then immediately turned to Schwanda’s six sisters.

“It’s kinda hard, but after her passing it made everybody realize they need to get tested,” said Corprew.

Sherrell Corprew and her mother Althea Trimble
(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

Just as the vaccination rate remains stalled, the delta variant is on the move. This concerns Hampton NAACP President Gaylene Kanoyton.

“When COVID first came out, a person who had COVID could infect two to three people. This delta variant can infect up to six people,” said Kanoyton, who has been on the front lines of the pandemic from the beginning.

She is calling for a change to the state’s testing and vaccination model.

“This is so important that we have community testing and that we also include the vaccine with it,” she said.

Kanoyton says testing and vaccinations under one roof could be a game-changer for the vaccine-hesitant.

“People are hesitant in the Black and brown communities. However, I do believe that once a person goes to get tested, they might change their mind and go get the vaccine,” said Kanoyton.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

Dr. Nancy Welch, director of the Chesapeake Health Department, told 10 On Your Side, Kanoyton appears to be on to something.

Once a week, Welch operates a joint testing and vaccination clinic in the public housing community of Geneva Square. Welch says a trusted staff member has been able to convince some who reported for testing only, to go ahead and get the shot.

The Geneva Square clinic takes place on Thursdays, 3-7 p.m. and it is open to anyone in search of a test or a vaccination.

The Corprew girls are OK but their uncle tested positive for COVID-19 after suffering a massive heart attack the night Schwanda died. Schwanda’s mother, who dislikes needles, is preparing to get the vaccination.

“I think I’m going to have to suck it up for this one and get the needle,” said Corprew.

A GoFundMe to help the family lay Schwanda to rest exceeded its $5,000 goal as of Monday.

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