Gov. Henry McMaster Visits McLeod Health’s Mass Vaccination Event At Darlington Raceway

Gov. Henry McMaster Visits McLeod Health’s Mass Vaccination Event At Darlington Raceway

by March 6, 2021 0 comments

DARLINGTON, S.C. – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster visited Darlington Raceway on Friday to get a first-hand look at McLeod Health’s mass vaccination event that vaccinated more than 5,400 people.

The “Your Checkered Flag to Better Health” event marked the largest, single-day vaccination effort in the Pee Dee region, as it was open to people who met South Carolina’s Phase 1a and 1b of the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. Most of the individuals who drove through the tunnel to receive their Moderna vaccine at Darlington Raceway were from the Pee Dee region, but thousands came from surrounding regions, even as far away as North Carolina.

“On behalf of McLeod Health, we want to thank the Darlington Raceway for the longstanding partnership and their combined efforts with Darlington County to make this vaccine clinic possible,” said Senior Vice President and Administrator of McLeod Regional Medical Center, Will McLeod. “As the raceway’s medical partner, it has been a pleasure to work side-by-side with them for more than 35 years. This location, this environment and this track adds a level of excitement and enjoyment to those who are receiving their vaccine today.”

McLeod Health has distributed more than 50,000 vaccines since December throughout its 18-county service area. It has also distributed 100% of the allocated vaccines, performed more than 1,600 antibody infusions and performed more than 155,500 COVID-19 screening tests.

Kerry Tharp, who has been the President of Darlington Raceway since July of 2016, touted that the facility is much more than just a racetrack. While Darlington Raceway is known for its NASCAR racing, most notably, the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500, it has also been a staple in the community that has stepped up in times of need. Tharp said that Friday’s mass vaccination marked one of the most important events in the track’s history.

“One of our track’s prime responsibilities is to be a community partner and provide service to the people who live in this region and in this state,” Tharp said. “We made it known earlier this year that the racetrack would be available to serve as a host site for a mass vaccination event. We certainly believe that if you’re racing to get the vaccine out for people, there’s no better place to do it than at a racetrack. This track has hosted many thrilling races over 70-plus years, but I can’t tell you of a more meaningful event than we’ve had here at this track and what we are doing here today and what we will be doing on April 1.”

The mass vaccination event was pieced together with a lot of moving parts. The South Carolina National Guard directed vaccine recipients throughout the infield and garage areas of the track, Too Tough To Tame, and many of the personnel on-site were volunteers from local colleges and elsewhere. Gov. Henry McMaster was proud of everyone’s efforts and said the teamwork that the citizens display on a daily basis is why companies want to do business with the state.

“This is what South Carolina looks like,” Gov. McMaster said. “This is what we look like. It’s this kind of people working together and helping each other. They’re not getting paid; they don’t have to. They’re doing things that haven’t been done before in the face of a crisis and in face of a need. That’s what makes South Carolina different.”

Gov. McMaster continued and said, “The people that I deal with that are looking to do business somewhere in the world, they’re coming here, and they always give me three reasons, which is the people, the people, the people. And if they could be here to see this today, they would say, ‘that’s what we’re talking about’. ‘We want the people of South Carolina handling our business for us and getting things done’. This is really a remarkable event.”

South Carolina House of Representative Speaker Jay Lucas also spoke very highly of the volunteers who made this event a success. Friday’s event was a beautiful, sunny day, but Speaker Lucas has seen first hand of similar events in Darlington County operating through tough conditions.

“We don’t ever know what kind of weather that we’re going to get, but we always know what kind of attitude that we’re going to get from folks in the Pee Dee,” said House Speaker Lucas. “And that’s people who want to come out and who want to work and want to get this vaccine in folk’s arms.”

Tom Rice, U.S. Representative of South Carolina’s 7th congressional district, spoke very highly of Gov. McMaster’s rollout of the vaccine in the Palmetto State. He mentioned that Gov. McMaster isn’t just focusing on the larger cities throughout the state and that the efforts to distribute the vaccine throughout the smaller cities and towns are just as important.

“He (Gov. McMaster) isn’t just looking at Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, he is making sure that everybody around this state has their fair opportunity to get this vaccine administered,” said Congressman Rice. “The nursing homes, 75% of the residents in our nursing homes have already gotten this vaccine. The most vulnerable population, our governor and our speaker Jay Lucas have done a fantastic job of making sure that those people were taken care of first and then spreading it throughout our population. The end is in sight.”

Attendees will return to Darlington Raceway on Thursday, April 1 to receive their second dose of the Moderna vaccine. Earlier this week, Darlington Raceway announced a multi-year extension to Cook Out’s entitlement of the Southern 500 that is traditionally held on Labor Day Weekend. On Mother’s Day Weekend of this year, Darlington Raceway will also host all three of NASCAR’s national series as well.

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/

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