By Callie Hietala
Martinsville City Council member Tammy Pearson is offering a new incentive to encourage locals to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
At a press conference on August 27, Pearson, who owns several restaurants in Martinsville and Henry County with her husband Will, announced that, beginning Saturday, August 28, “I am offering every unvaccinated person in MHC who gets fully vaccinated something really special. It’s a pulled pork sandwich, smoked by us.” More daring diners can order it with a side of “extra hot, limited time, ‘COVID-Killer’ hot sauce.”
Pearson was inspired to action by the loss of her cousin, long-time Henry County teacher Amy Ferguson, and by the story of Pam Hudson, who nearly lost her life after contracting COVID and continues to struggle from the long-term effects of the virus.
Pearson said that more than 38,500 people in Martinsville and Henry County have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 and that, among hospitalized adults, nearly all are unvaccinated – which she said illustrates the power and effectiveness of the vaccine in protecting people.
The continuing spike in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant should be cause for concern, said Pearson.
“If you are not scared and terrified of what this could mean for our community, let me remind you. Shutting down of businesses; high unemployment; consumer goods shortages; virtual education for our children; not being able to see our loved ones; hospital overcrowding; and more and more and more of our friends, family, and neighbors getting sick or even dying,” she said, and added those stark images from less than a year ago spurred her to action.
“I knew I had to do something to help prompt our citizens to get vaccinated,” Pearson said. “I know it’s a personal choice, and I know this isn’t going to be the only reason that people go get that vaccine. But maybe if I can help just five or six people go a get the vaccine, at least that would make a little bit of a difference.”
Pearson wants other local restaurants and businesses to do their part in offering incentives for unvaccinated locals to get their shots.
“I am issuing a challenge to all restaurants, small businesses, and even the big box stores in our local area to join me in providing a perk, something free, discounts, or more. I not only want our citizens to take action and get vaccinated, but I also want our local businesses to take action and help provide incentives,” she said.
Anyone who wishes to claim their sandwich can do so at Wild Magnolia or Shindig, both owned and operated by the Pearson Restaurant Group.
Virginia Department of Health (VDH) data for the week of August 22 through 28, the most recent weekly dataset currently available, indicates that Henry County had a rate of 350.1 new cases per 100,000 people during the week, up from 215.6 just a week ago. Martinsville’s seven-day average for new cases was 302.7 per 100,000 people, a slight decrease from last week’s 326.6.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on August 23 for use in individuals ages 16 and over. The Moderna and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still available under emergency use authorizations.
Anyone wishing to find a vaccination location near them may visit www.vaccine.gov. More information on the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia can be found at www.vdh.virginia.gov. For current guidance on how to help stop the spread of COVID-19 visit www.cdc.gov.