Disneyland Railroad Terminal and Lawn
Disneyland’s railroad terminal. Photo by John Schreiber.

Orange County will begin using Disneyland as a new “super site” for coronavirus vaccinations this week, and more large-scale venues in the county are slated for similar use soon.

“The Disneyland Resort, the largest employer in the heart of Orange County, has stepped up to host the county’s first Super POD site — undertaking a monumental task in our vaccination distribution process,” Andrew Do, acting chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said Monday.

The county has also reached a deal to have another site at Knott’s Berry Farm, Supervisor Doug Chaffee said. Officials are working on setting up a vaccination super site at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa as well, Chaffee said.

Ultimately, the county is aiming to have five regional super sites.

“We don’t have enough vaccine to open another one,” Chaffee said of opening a second super site. “We can’t open up too much until we have the quantity of vaccine we need.”

The Disneyland site will be operational later this week, with more details expected at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Most of those eligible to be vaccinated will be contacted through their employer to schedule an appointment via a third-party app developed in cooperation with the county.

Vaccine distribution is managed through a phased, tiered approach established by the California Department of Public Health. Currently, vaccinations are available to Orange County residents and those who work in Orange County who meet the criteria for what is referred to as Phase 1a, all tiers. This group includes law enforcement first responders in high-risk communities, and was recently expanded to include those age 75 and older.

Multiple mobile sites are operating throughout the county, with officials currently working to vaccinate the elderly in skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, Chaffee said.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim said a recent survey of the county shows that 54% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are 65 or older, and 72% of the intensive care unit patients are 65 and older.

With another shipmen of vaccines on Monday the county has 40,000 doses in storage, Kim said.

“We’re doing about 3,000 a day and the three fire department sites, which is good,” Kim said. “We’ll probably be doing two or three thousand vaccinations a day when we get our system ironed out.”

County officials are also seeking volunteers to help with a range of services from traffic control to computer registrations, Chaffee said. Volunteers can register at volunteers.oneoc.org/special-event/a182I000007VTf2.

Health officials reported 3,259 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and another 29 fatalities, bringing the cumulative case total to 191,861 and the death toll to 2,120.

The death reports are staggered and sometimes take weeks to be logged, but it’s clear now that December was the deadliest month for the county since the pandemic began, with 410 fatalities reported so far.

That tops the summer peak when 379 died in July and 367 in August, according to Orange County Health Care Agency statistics.

The number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus edged up from 2,216 on Sunday to 2,221, matching Saturday’s count. The number of intensive care unit patients dipped down from a record 547 on Sunday to 544.

Of Monday’s 29 reported deaths, seven were skilled nursing facility residents and three resided in assisted living facilities. Since the pandemic began, 699 skilled nursing facility residents and 235 assisted living facility residents have died.

There were 26,231 tests reported Monday, raising the cumulative total to 2,283,663, according to the OCHCA.

Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention public health, said a new strain of COVID-19 that has been detected in Southern California more easily spreads, but the current vaccines appear to be as effective.

It is not more deadly, but the new strain could lead to more deaths because it would infect more people, Noymer said.

“We could be in for a tsunami,” Noymer said.

The high hospitalization and death rates should continue through February at least, Noymer said.

“I expect February to be a challenge,” Noymer said. “It’s hard to be sure, but oftentimes the flu season goes strong into February and we’re not close to … herd immunity.”

Sheriff’s officials reported a steep decline in the number of Orange County Jail inmates infected with coronavirus, putting the number at 279, which includes 25 newly booked prisoners. At the apparent peak of the outbreak late last month, 1,246 were infected.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Breckner said seven inmates are currently hospitalized and the department is awaiting the results of 1,167 tests.

The county’s state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, and the unadjusted figure is 5.9%. The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients.

The Southern California region is at zero ICU availability.

The county has 35% of its ventilators available.

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