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Strange Times: Disneyland becomes vaccination super site, officials become optimistic for first time

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Sara Cardine

Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Jan. 14—Ten grueling months into the coronavirus pandemic — which has so far infected nearly 200, 000 Orange County residents and claimed 2, 179 lives — county leaders on Wednesday dared to dream an end to the devastation may finally be in sight.

County supervisors joined with health and public safety agency representatives on the Disneyland lot in Anaheim, where a COVID- 19 vaccine distribution center began earlier that day dosing first responders, healthcare professionals and residents 65 and older.

Officials anticipate the “super POD ” (point of distribution ) will soon be able to distribute 7, 000 doses of the vaccine per day with the ability to ramp up as more supplies become available.

“Today marks an important step in combatting COVID- 19 and reclaiming our lives and livelihoods from the grip of the pandemic, ” Orange County Board of Supervisors Chair Andrew Do said in a news conference. “With these vaccines, we will triumph and overcome the biggest challenge of our generation.”

Officials have teamed with the Orange County Fire Authority to oversee the administration of COVID- 19 vaccinations in an effort dubbed Operation Independence, as the goal is to see most county residents vaccinated by the Fourth of July.

“That means businesses can open. That means children go back to school and get the education they need and the experience they ‘re lacking, ” Fourth District Supervisor Doug Chaffee said Wednesday.

Smaller sites in Anaheim and Irvine that had been vaccinating first responders and eligible residents prior to the opening of the super POD were closed to accommodate the countywide shift to the Disneyland super POD.

One remaining facility at a Huntington Beach fire training center will continue to offer vaccines to the public through Sunday. On Wednesday, hundreds of locals braved long lines only to discover doses were available by appointment only.

Mike Halphide, an assistant chief of Lifeguard Operations for the Newport Beach Fire Department confirmed some 1, 000 first- round Moderna vaccines were distributed on Tuesday alone.

“Once people get it and they ‘re registered in the system, they ‘ll get a notification of when it ‘s time to receive their second dose, ” he said.

To help keep track of Orange County vaccinations, officials have rolled out a free smartphone app — called Othena — through which people can book appointments. Do acknowledged the app was recently overwhelmed as more than 10, 000 attempted to sign up in a two- hour period, but he urged residents not to seek a vaccine without an appointment.

Disneyland ‘s vaccine super POD is the first of several large- scale distribution sites being planned. Four more vaccine super sites will come online soon but their locations have not yet been disclosed.

Vaccine distributions cannot come quickly enough. the Orange County Health Care Agency on Wednesday reported 3, 847 new cases of coronavirus and 31 deaths, bringing the countywide case count to 199, 532 and pushing the fatality rate to 2, 179.

Area hospitals reported treating 2, 280 individuals for COVID- 19, 25 % of which — or 544 individuals — were being cared for in intensive care units, the agency reported.

The county ‘s seven- day average of new cases stands at 78.8 per 100, 000 residents. Another 20, 812 tests were issued Wednesday, bringing the cumulative number to 2, 320, 876 and accounting for a seven- day average testing positivity rate of 19.5 %.

Despite the continuing high numbers, OCHA Director Dr. Clayton Chau adopted a positive tone at Wednesday ‘s news conference.

“The end of COVID- 19 is in sight, ” he said.

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID- 19 deaths for select cities in Orange County :

— Santa Ana : 36, 612 cases ; 412 deaths — Anaheim : 33, 723 cases ; 448 deaths — Huntington Beach : 8, 098 cases ; 118 deaths — Costa Mesa : 6, 751 cases ; 63 deaths — Irvine : 7, 617 cases ; 30 deaths — Newport Beach : 2, 834 cases ; 36 deaths — Fountain Valley : 2, 621 cases ; 34 deaths — Laguna Beach : 609 cases ; fewer than five deaths Here are the case counts by age group, followed by deaths :

— 0 to 17 : 19, 489 cases ; one death — 18 to 24 : 27, 818 cases ; five deaths — 25 to 34 : 40, 878 cases ; 27 deaths — 35 to 44 : 31, 503 cases ; 47 deaths — 45 to 54 : 32, 220 cases ; 154 deaths — 55 to 64 : 24, 834 cases ; 288 deaths — 65 to 74 : 12, 330 cases ; 418 deaths — 75 to 84 : 6, 148 cases ; 507 deaths — 85 and older : 4, 187 cases ; 732 deaths Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com /coronavirus- in- oc. Information on the COVID- 19 vaccine in Orange County can be found at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com /covid- 19- vaccine- resources.

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(c)2021 the Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.)

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