The Disneyland amusement park, owned by the Walt Disney company, which has been closed since March, will become the first large complex to provide COVID-19 vaccines in Orange County, California, government officials announced.
“Disneyland” will be the first vaccination campaign center in the county and will be operational at the end of this week, district officials confirmed in a statement. The goal is to vaccinate thousands of people daily in this new headquarters.
California is transforming ballparks and fairgrounds into mass vaccination sites, as the coronavirus surge overwhelms hospitals and sets a new death record in the state. The COVID-19 death toll in the state reached 30,000 on Monday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. It took the nation’s most populous state six months to reach 10,000 deaths, but just a month to go from 20,000 to 30,000 deaths. California ranks third nationally for COVID-19-related deaths, behind Texas and New York, which is No. 1 with nearly 40,000.
Public health officials have estimated that about 12% of those who contract the virus will require hospital care, usually several weeks after infection as they become more ill.
Governor Gavin Newsom and public health officials are counting on widespread vaccination to help stem the tide of new infections, starting with medical workers and the most vulnerable elderly, such as those in care homes. Newsom acknowledged that the rollout of vaccines has been too slow and pledged to administer one million injections this week, more than double what has been done so far..
That effort will require what Newsom called a “world-wide approach,” which includes having vaccines administered by pharmacists and pharmaceutical technicians, dentists, paramedics and emergency medical technicians, and members of the California National Guard.
The vaccination points are “absolutely critical to stop this deadly virus”, County Supervisor Dough Chaffee said in a statement.
The state will greatly expand its effort with new mass vaccination sites in the parking lots at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Petco Park in San Diego and the CalExpo Fairgrounds in Sacramento.
Cars lined up early Monday near the downtown San Diego stadium, where officials were aiming to inoculate 5,000 healthcare workers a day. By the weekend, the city of Los Angeles planned to convert its massive COVID-19 testing center at Dodger Stadium into a vaccination center with capacity for 12,000 daily inoculations.
Los Angeles County is the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, responsible for 40% of deaths related to the virus in California and a large number of new cases.
On Monday, nearly 8,000 people were hospitalized in Los Angeles County, which had fewer than 50 intensive care units available in an area with a population of 10 million people, said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of Health Services for the county.
Although the county saw a decline in new cases, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said it was likely due to the decline in testing after the New Year’s holiday. He predicted another increase in cases of people gathering unsafe during the holiday. Ferrer also said that COVID-19 continues to kill someone in the county every eight minutes, on average.
There is some hope, with new hospitalizations across the state dropping from 3,500 a day earlier this month to 2,500. Some forecasts say hospitalizations will stabilize by the end of the month.
However, the recent frightening jumps in new positive cases show that the state may have simply bought time to prepare for what officials still hope will be a “surge on top of a surge” in the coming weeks fueled by celebrations of New Years, officials said.
Still, the state could have “a little respite” for hospitals that have seen their staff and oxygen supplies run dry, and for the 1,000 newly arrived contract medical workers that will be increased by another 1,000 or so before the surge to peak, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency.
Lawmakers also continued to ask people to maintain social distancing to slow the spread of the infection. In Los Angeles County, residents were urged to wear a mask even when at home if they regularly went outside and lived with someone who was elderly or at high risk.
“Dying from COVID in the hospital means dying alone,” said the president of the county Board of Supervisors, Hilda Solís. “Visitors are not allowed in hospitals for your own safety. Families are sharing their final goodbyes on tablets and mobile phones. ”
“One of the most heartbreaking conversations our healthcare workers share is about these last words when children apologize to their parents and grandparents for bringing COVID home, for making them sick,” Solís said. “And these apologies are just some of the last words your loved ones will hear.”
(With AP information)
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