ECSU COVID-19 Mitigation Project

ECSU COVID-19 Mitigation Project


viking compass

covid_header Building Regional Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 within Northeastern North Carolina


Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) is the only public university in the northeastern region of North Carolina and serves primarily 21 counties of which most are designated as Tier 1 counties.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these counties have been adversely affected. In particular, Bertie, Halifax, and Northampton have experienced per-capita coronavirus rates higher than some urban centers.

In July 2020, ECSU received funding from the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory to work towards addressing COVID-19 challenges in the region. ECSU strongly believes that the proposed investment will have a long-lasting impact on the region in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 and improving community resiliency. ECSU plans to continue working with the CBOs and various county health departments across the region in providing COVID-19 related services beyond the project period.

Emerging data suggest that racial and ethnic minority populations bear a disproportionate burden of illness and death from COVID-19. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis found that 33% of hospitalized patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19 were African-Americans compared to 18% in the community, suggesting an overrepresentation of blacks among hospitalized patients

Several factors contribute to the disproportionate burden of public health crises on certain populations. Racial and ethnic minorities are at greater risk for exposure to and adverse outcomes from COVID-19 due to these social determinants of health and living and working conditions. Such conditions limit their ability to comply with public health measures to prevent infection like physical distancing, handwashing, and quarantine measures.

Persistent disparities in access to healthcare pose challenges for racial and ethnic minority, rural, and socially vulnerable populations for receiving COVID-19 services. These vulnerable groups also live in areas that are further from medical facilities or where medical facilities are under-resourced. Existing disparities in vaccination rates could mean racial and ethnic minorities may experience continued susceptibility to COVID-19, even after a vaccine is available.

The overarching goal of the proposed project is to enhance capacity and infrastructure to support COVID-19 response, recovery, and resilience for racial and ethnic minority, socially vulnerable, and rural communities in northeastern North Carolina (NENC).

The proposed initiative will support establishing: (i) ECSU as the regional site for COVID-19 testing and (ii) ECSU as the hub for drone delivery, transporting essentials to the most vulnerable population in the region.

(i) Regional Site for COVID-19 Testing

 The site will be equipped with the capability for diagnostic testing of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The site will also develop campaign activities to support increased awareness and adoption of public health practices (e.g., physical distancing, COVID-19 testing, vaccination, etc.) among vulnerable subgroups in the selected communities.

ECSU will also collaborate with community-based organizations (CBOs) to host free COVID-19 mobile and popup testing clinics across the region. ECSU recognizes the importance of increasing access to testing in communities across the region, which is especially critical in rural and underserved communities where residents may have limited access to healthcare.

The mobile testing clinics will help bring testing, potentially vaccines, and essential supplies to these communities so that residents can get tested for free and continue to take the steps they need to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The screening and specimen collections will be free for residents and will be part of ECSU’s role as a regional site to increase testing in underserved and rural communities across the state. The project webpage will provide real-time information to help one locate where testing is scheduled in their community. 

(ii) Drone Delivery of Need Resources

To complement testing efforts, ECSU will expand its existing drone fleet to include long-range, high endurance delivery drones for possible future use in transporting personal protective equipment (PPE), and other essentials including food and medicines. ECSU with expertise in Aviation and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is uniquely positioned to lead the use of drones for emergency supplies delivery in the region.


The proposed initiative at ECSU is expected to result in:

(i) improved reach of COVID-19-related public health messaging to racial and ethnic minorities, rural and socially vulnerable populations;

(ii) decreased disparities in COVID-19 testing and vaccination rates among racial and ethnic minority populations in highly impacted geographic areas; and

(iii) enhanced capacity and infrastructure to support response, recovery, and resilience for racial and ethnic minority, rural and socially vulnerable populations.


ECSU is providing free COVID-19 testing to community members in the 21-county region of Northeastern North Carolina, ECSU students, and ECSU employees.  To receive a COVID-19 test, individuals must complete the appropriate online form below:

Community members: Click HERE

ECSU students: Click HERE;

ECSU employees: Click HERE

Individuals who wish to be tested for the COVID-19 virus must complete and submit the online form. A nurse will contact the individuals to verify the information and select a date and time for the test. To ensure confidentiality, the individuals will then receive a follow-up call with a unique reference number they will bring to their testing appointment.


ecsu testing







Thorpe Endowed Professor & Dean, 
School of Science, Aviation, Health, and Technology
122  STEM Complex
Campus Box 850
Phone: (252)335-3846
Fax: (252)335-3760