LA County steps up rollout as Dodger Stadium test site switches to vaccines – Daily News

on Jan12
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As public health officials push to accelerate the mammoth task of inoculating 10 million Los Angles County residents, the coronavirus testing center at Dodger Stadium — the largest such facility in the nation — will transform into a mass vaccine distribution site this week, officials confirmed Monday, Jan. 11.

Also converting to the new mission will be another major testing center at Veterans Affairs Lot 15 at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Brentwood, so that public health officials can deploy more staff, gear and supplies toward vaccinating the state’s most populous county.

“It’s all hands on deck to accelerate equitable and safe distribution of the vaccine,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who added that another Major League Baseball stadium, Petco Park in San Diego, as well as Sacramento’s sprawling Cal Expo, home of the California State fair, will also become centers for vaccine distribution. Additional large-scale vaccine centers — the scale for which has never been attempted in modern history — were expected to pop up around the state soon as the rollout of the vaccine moves beyond hospitals and long-term care centers.

The decision could create a testing gap, at least in the short term, according to Dr. Christina Ghaly, county Health Services Director, as the county will lose roughly one-third of its testing capacity.

At the two centers, roughly 87,000 tests were administered per week out of 225,000 weekly tests at community sites throughout the county, Ghaly said. Those tests do not include those provided at private clinics, mobile sites and other health care facilities not part of the county and city testing programs.

The setback in testing capacity was not expected to last long, however, as county officials were said to be working on alternative testing sites to make up the difference. County public health officials this week faced a balancing act of priorities between ramping up vaccine distribution while continuing to beat back the virus with testing and public guidance.

The choice to transition the Dodgers’ famed Chavez Ravine home for vaccine distribution by the end off this week, as well as to close the V.A. testing site, was made by the city of Los Angeles, county officials said. Public health  officials insisted the move was made in coordination with their efforts.

“I know the city is aware there will be implications of these closures,” Ghaly said later during an afternoon press briefing. “We will continue conversations with the city. This is a really critical time to make sure that people can have the best access to testing.”

In addition to those two sites, L.A. County officials have opened 22 vaccination centers — with plans to open five more next week. Officials have also coordinated vaccine rollouts with neighborhood pharmacies.

Anxiety grows among officials as the pandemic has worsened in recent weeks. Hospitalizations, new cases and deaths have soared to record levels, leaving overtaxed local hospitals nearing their breaking points.

Vaccination distribution has been slower than planned locally and in much of the nation.

Public health officials told the Board of Supervisors last week that smaller allocations from federal stockpiles, not enough people approved to give the shots and other unexpected delays were to blame.

By the end of December, county officials were expecting to have vaccinated 250,000 to 350,000 healthcare providers, but fell short of that goal.

“It’s frustrating that 100% of what we’re getting we’re not getting into people’s arms,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said.

But officials said Monday that the pace is quickening. By the end of January, L.A. County expects to have vaccinated close to 800,000 individuals in Phase 1A, which includes healthcare workers, along with residents at long-term care facilities.

As of last week, hospitals received 220,000 vaccine doses and have vaccinated about 160,000 front-line workers for close to 75% completion. About 22,000 health care workers received their second doses.

At nearly 300 skilled nursing facilities with 49,000 eligible residents and staff roughly 67% of employees and 66% of residents have been vaccinated, according to the Department of Public Health. Another 42 nursing homes were receiving help to vaccinate staff and residents.

As the end of the month nears, officials will begin to look at those in Phase 1B beginning with residents 75 and older and those at risk of exposure at work.

Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis on Monday said undocumented workers should not be excluded from the vaccine.

“Those who are undocumented should be on the front of line because they are essential workers have been incredibly impacted by this virus,” Solis said.

Back in December, residents in Phase 1A Tier 1 went first, including health care workers at acute care hospitals, EMTs, paramedics and residents and staff at long term care facilities — among them 75 separate locations.

Next are health care workers in Phase 1A Tiers 2 and 3 — mostly those not associated with a healthcare facility — who can now sign up for an appointment beginning Monday at

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