A view of Los Angeles with Dodger Stadium in the foreground. Photo from Pixabay.
A view of Los Angeles with Dodger Stadium in the foreground. Photo from Pixabay.

Dodger Stadium reopened Friday as a COVID-19 mass-vaccination center, with Mayor Eric Garcetti saying it will eventually have the capacity to vaccinate 12,000 people a day, but for now it will cater only to health care workers.

“This site will move us closer to a day we can’t wait to wake up and hear about. A day when we record zero deaths here in Los Angeles, a day in which there are no more families devastated by this virus, a day when we say our economy is fully reopened, our children are back in school, we’re hugging our loved ones,” Garcetti said alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom in a news conference at Dodger Stadium Friday.

“We know vaccinations are the key to that. With Dodger Stadium, we are throwing open the door to that future.”

The mass vaccination site is expected to provide 4,000 vaccines on its first day of opening.

“This is just day one, the idea of getting (12,000 vaccines per day) will be significant and will be a logistics opportunity, not just a logistics challenge,” Newsom said.

Under current vaccination protocols set by the county, the only people eligible to receive vaccines are health care workers and residents and staffers at skilled nursing and long-term care facilities. The Los Angeles County Department Public Health has not yet expanded vaccine availability to lower-tier priority groups, even though the state has authorized vaccines for people aged 65 and older.

County officials said the county still needs to vaccinate another 500,000 health care workers, and it does not have adequate supplies of vaccine to expand access. Getting all of the health care workers vaccinated is expected to take until at least the end of January.

“We need to ensure that we are addressing the hardest-hit communities, and that we are talking about access to this vaccine. The city is committed to making sure that our residents have a place to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available,” Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez said at the news conference with Newsom and Garcetti.

“Some say that goals of equity should be set aside and instead focus on getting more people vaccinated … if we don’t focus on equity now, I’ll tell you who’s going to get the vaccine. It’ll be the people who have the luxury to stay at home and send their children to open private schools and neighborhood. And the people who will not the vaccine will be the nannies, the maids, the housekeepers and the gardeners,” Martinez said.

Garcetti, Newsom and health officials have lamented the lack of vaccine availability.

“We’ve got to increase the pace and distribution and the administration of these vaccines. The reality is we need to get these vaccines out of the freezer and we need to get them into people’s arms,” Newsom said.

The mayor and other big-city mayors across the country sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden Wednesday asking that cities be given vaccine allocations directly instead of funneling them through the state.

But Garcetti said uncertainty about when vaccine doses will become available won’t stop the city from moving ahead with opening the Dodger Stadium site.

“When it’s fully up and running we will see as many as 12,000 people, possibly more, come through there and receive their dose — their first dose and of course then later, their second dose of the vaccination,” he said Thursday. “And we’re deploying a whole workforce to administer shots, and doing it all without this clear sense of when vaccines will arrive from the federal government. But we have to take that risk. We have to get it out quick and assume that the next vaccine will be there. America deserves that. Los Angeles deserves nothing less.”

Dodger Stadium was previously being used as a mass testing site, but it halted operations Monday so it could be reconfigured for vaccinations. The city also closed a testing site at the Veterans Affairs Lot 15 at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Brentwood.

The move decreased the city’s testing capacity from more than 40,000 to about 27,000 tests per day, according to Garcetti, but he said testing appointments remain available to those who want them. He noted that the city has been seeing a drop in testing demand every day. He also said the city is adding more mobile testing and looking into providing hybrid sites that offer both tests and vaccines.

On Thursday, Garcetti called the challenge of getting every American the required two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine “the largest logistical undertaking that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime as an American.”

“I spoke today with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and members of the administration who are focused on the goals of the next 100 days. And I stand ready to help them meet their goals of vaccinating 100 million people in the next 100 days,” Garcetti said. “Los Angeles will help get that job done.”

Los Angeles County plans to open five additional mass-vaccination centers Tuesday. Those centers will be located at:

— Pomona Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave.;

— The Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood;

— Cal State Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St.;

— Los Angeles County Office of Education, 12830 Columbia Way, Downey; and

— Six Flags Magic Mountain, 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia.

County officials said each of the sites will be able to vaccinate about 4,000 people per day. The centers will operate in addition to Dodger Stadium and 75 other vaccination sites the county previously established across the region to administer doses to health care workers.

Health care workers only can sign up for appointments online at publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/HCWSignup/.

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