Newsom Unveils State’s Largest Vaccination Site at Levi’s Stadium
The official home of the San Francisco 49ers is now California’s greatest symbol of hope in the effort to combat the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. The Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara opened its gates Tuesday to host the state’s largest vaccination site to date.
When vaccine supply allows, the site will have capacity to put shots in up to 15,000 arms per day. For now, the massive vaccination site will move through eligible Santa Clara County residents with the doses they have on hand and will start with just 500 vaccinations as a soft open Tuesday.
The new site checks several important boxes. The stadium infrastructure is built to withstand high volumes of traffic, is easily accessible by public transportation and is located in an area hit especially hard by the virus.
The county was brutalized as the first Bay Area hotspot and suffered again as infections spiked in the fall. As of Monday, the county health department had recorded 105,386 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 1,546 deaths as a result.
In a press conference at the site’s unveiling Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom discussed ongoing negotiations between lawmakers, school districts and school staff labor unions that have been at odds over how and when to safely get students back into physical classrooms.
Much of the debate around schools reopening hinges on vaccine access for teachers and school staff. Distribution capacity at sites like the Levi’s Stadium and the two mass vaccination operations established in San Francisco will go a long way in eventually getting teachers and students back under one roof. But while local municipalities are ramping up their vaccination efforts, the supply shortage still threatens the progress.
Newsom said he spoke with President Joe Biden’s administration Tuesday about a 20 percent increase to the state’s Pfizer vaccine shipments expected in the coming weeks. But the governor conceded Monday that the state is staring at a deficit between demand and supply that will not be resolved in the short term. Counties are cautiously administering their limited supply, reserving some for future use as necessary second doses.
It is now common knowledge that the prior administration left the federal vaccine stockpile nearly depleted and that former President Donald Trump neglected to take advantage of order opportunities presented early by Pfizer, essentially pitting the U.S. against the rest of the world as countries scramble to protect their own citizens.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that dose distribution should be markedly ramped up in the spring with additional orders of Pfizer and Moderna and with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, if and when it is approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The massive Levi’s Stadium operation is a local, state, federal and private partnership that will first focus on appointments for health care workers and residents 65 years of age and older.