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'It is now time to make that decision' | Governor Roy Cooper tours vaccine site in the Triad

Governor Roy Cooper visited the Forsyth County Health Department Thursday and talked with patients getting their COVID-19 vaccines.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper toured the Forsyth County Health Department Thursday to speak with local leaders and patients getting a COVID-19 vaccine, some, for the very first time. 

"Have you guys gotten it yet?" Gov. Cooper asked a man and woman sitting at the health department. 

"No, we're going to get them right now," said the woman. 

"Yeah, we finally smartened up," said the man.

The state of North Carolina has hit many milestones along the way. As of recently, the state reached 60 percent of adults with at least one shot. Forsyth County Health Director Joshua Swift said in the last week, the department gave out its 100,000th dose of the vaccine.

"We will turn the corner on this pandemic but we are entering a new phase," said Gov. Cooper. 

However, there's still work that needs to be done. Cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in North Carolina, prompting health leaders to exhaust every avenue to get people vaccinated.

RELATED: Gov. Cooper: K-8 students and teachers should wear masks in schools

"The evidence is overwhelming that it is now time to make that decision and I'm seeing more and more leaders from all political persuasions step up and say this is what we've got to do to save lives," said Cooper.

The Forsyth County Health Department recently started giving out cash cards to those who choose to get vaccinated or help get someone to their vaccine appointment, which has prompted an increase in the number of doses they're giving out. 

"It was just literally a dozen to 12-15 people per day but since the gift cards started this week we've seen a drastic increase. Today we saw an increased number just this first half of the day. We're well over one hundred people a day now, so that's great," said Swift. 

Leaders are also thinking ahead to the fall.

The governor released an updated schools toolkit, saying kids and teachers K-8 should continue to wear masks in class. 

And while it's not a law or mandate, the governor says a push will come from the state in hopes that local districts will follow.

"We want to provide them with everything that they need and realize that we're dealing with a lot of people that are unvaccinated. Children under 12 cannot get a vaccination yet so having mask-wearing and doing the things that we need to do to keep them safe is important," said Cooper. 

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccinations, testing slows as another vaccine lottery sparks hope that more will get their shot