GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) – The percent of positive COVID-19 cases remains just over 12 percent higher in Etowah County than the rest of Alabama.

On Thursday, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported a statewide positivity rate of 41.2 percent with Etowah County at 53.7 percent.

County officials say they are concerned because right now they are seeing more than half of the cases they saw in all of 2021. Gadsden Etowah County EMA Deputy Director Josh Tanner said it is wearing on law enforcement and emergency management staffs.

“Our jobs as emergency managers don’t change just because we’re in a pandemic,” Tanner said. “We just have to adapt and shift gears.”

Tanner said vaccine distribution continues to be a top priority for county officials.

The 21 Kids Foundation hired Gadsden insurance agent Jazmin Lopez to help interpret when there is a language barrier for the community to get information on vaccines.

“We need to educate people so they can make the step of getting vaccinated,” Lopez said. “Basically, whatever question they have I help them translate that to the doctor. And I’m so happy that they can trust me with that.”

By day she runs her own insurance agency, but when she’s off, Lopez is helping to make sure the community has good information about vaccines to make the best decision for their families.

“Right now, I feel like everyone has a loved one that had COVID,” Lopez said. “Now we can see it. We see the numbers. We see our family members that have been sick.”

She has hosted several clinics with the 21 Kids Foundation at her office. Whether she is hosting one or helping to translate a question, she wants to let you know she is here to help you.

“Now that I’m in this position it makes me so happy knowing that I’m able to help,” Lopez said.

The 21 Kids Foundation is hosting a vaccine clinic at the Jordan Mini mart from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 1000 Tuscaloosa Ave. in Gadsden. The first 20 people who get vaccinated will receive a $25 Mastercard.

Tanner said incentives and this higher COVID positivity rate have helped to boost vaccine rates in the county.