Gov. Gavin Newsom was on hand Tuesday to open the largest COVID-19 vaccination site in California at Levi’s Stadium.
The site eventually will serve up to 15,000 doses a day, subject to supply, for health care workers and people 65 and older who live in Santa Clara County, regardless of their health care provider or insurance. Currently, the site offers 500 vaccinations a day, according to Santa Clara County Spokesman Roger Ross.
Newsom said he spoke with President Joe Biden Tuesday about allocation, supply and distribution of vaccines. Nationwide, doses will increase to 11 million from 5 million but Newsom said it’s still not enough.
This week California is expected to receive a little more than 1 million, 594,000 of them first doses. Next week, more allocations will follow; California pharmacies will receive 100,000 vaccines directly and allocations will also go to health clinic systems. Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente will be part of this provider network.
“Supply is the issue. That’s the constraint,” Newsom said.
However, the governor said COVID-19 cases are decreasing statewide and there is hope.
“We do see light at the end of the tunnel… and we are looking forward to working very closely with Santa Clara County’s health officers and organizations like the 49ers … to begin these partnerships that will allow us to scale as we get more vaccines here in the state,” he said.
One month ago on Jan. 9, there were more than 53,000 reported cases of COVID-19, Newsom said. On Feb. 9, there were 8,251. There was a 14% positivity rate a month ago and now it is 4.8%, he said.
Newsom said about 175,000 vaccination doses are administered daily in the state, which is double the rate seen a few weeks ago. He said he is focused on “getting these vaccines out of the freezers and into people’s arms.”
Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg said Levi’s Stadium will play a significant role in getting residents across the county vaccinated faster.
“We will only get through this pandemic if we all work together,” Ellenberg said.
Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said the partnership between the 49ers, Levi’s Stadium and the county provides the ability to vaccinate at scale.
Tong said the county health system already has provided more than 113,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines and more than 40,000 appointments are scheduled this week. In addition, more than 100,000 doses have been administered by other health providers.
Tong said the infrastructure has been put in place to administer vaccines during the day, evening and weekend.
Alice Thipphavong said she came to Levi’s for her vaccine because it’s close to her house and convenient. She said the process was easy with staff pointing the way to the registration desk where she showed her ID and filled out forms.
Next, a nurse gave her the COVID-19 injection and after waiting 15 minutes to make sure she didn’t have an allergic reaction, Thipphavong was free to go.
“It was a good experience and convenient,” she said. “The 49ers are wonderful.”
Scott Veck, 65, was also among the first to receive the vaccine at the stadium.
“I didn’t even feel it.” he said.
Veck said he misses his daughter whom he hasn’t seen in more than a year. After he receives his second dose, Veck said he and his wife, a health care worker, will go to New Orleans to see their daughter. They already have plane tickets.
With the site’s opening, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority announced people can ride free on buses and light rail trains to the stadium. VTA’s light rail orange and green lines provide front-door service to Levi’s Stadium and the 55, 57 and 59 bus routes also serve the site.
Beginning yesterday, VTA increased the frequency of seven bus routes to help relieve pass-ups due to limited capacity as a result of social distancing requirements. VTA also reimplemented rear-door boarding for buses and suspended collecting fares systemwide until further notice.
The vaccination site was opened in partnership with the Santa Clara County health department and the 49ers, who also had offered their stadium as a voting station in the November election.
“This is an important day in 49ers’ history and a day we are immensely proud of,” said 49ers President Al Guido. “Our mission here is not to just deliver an exciting game day experience but one of stewardship to uplift, support and now to help protect our Bay Area community.”
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]