Some calling for more testing availability at Pipkin Building

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As COVID-19 cases continue to spike, some Memphis city leaders say the Pipkin Building mass vaccination site at the fairgrounds urgently needs to be open more days to reach more people.

Demand for the vaccine has increased recently in Memphis and the Mid-South. Now some leaders are calling for a change and say it’s needed now more so than ever.   

An urgent call from the Memphis City Council to have people to voluntarily mask up as COVID cases rise.

“We got some pretty disturbing information with what we’re hearing about this Delta variant in terms of number of cases,” said Memphis City Council Chairman Frank Colvett.

Memphis City Council Member Martavius Jones said, “Masks work and we see this Delta variant is quite a bit more transmissible.”

The city council is urging the health department to impose a mask mandate, even though city lawyers say they don’t have the authority, and they want more people like Jose Valentin to get vaccinated.

“Basically, just seeing the numbers rise and having my family and wanted to make sure i did my part to be safe,” said Jose Valentin, who’s a Memphis resident.

Valentin came to the Pipkin building to get his shot during his lunch break. He says this site needs to opened Monday through Saturday.

“I would believe so. There’s definitely a need for it and for I can see what’s available for rides from MATA,” said Valentin.

The City of Memphis tells WREG the Pipkin vaccination site is now open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 pm. We asked if the days of operation would be expanded but were told that could be addressed during Thursday’s COVID briefing.

“I think it is an issue that we only have it opened Wednesday through Saturday as opposed to Monday and Tuesday,” said Martavius Jones.

Memphis City Council Chairman Frank Colvett added, “We’re ready to open the Pipkin right back up, all the time and whatever we need to do.”

Last week, the city said it’s also working with churches and pharmacies creating pop vaccination sites.

“Those pop ups as we’ve called them in the past with those community-based events will continue through the month of August. That will complement what we’re doing at the Pipkin,” said Doug McGowan, City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer.

Additionally, the Memphis Chapter of the NAACP says it’ll be stepping up to make sure the vaccine reaches more people as the delta variant spreads.

“I think the NAACP is going to plan another vaccine celebration where people can come out and get shots as should say. We’re going to plan something in the near future,” said NAACP Executive Director Vickie Terry.

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