HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - The COVID-19 testing site at Hard Rock Stadium has been transformed into a vaccination site, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state is preparing to send out another shipment of the vaccine.
DeSantis on Wednesday made his second South Florida stop in Miami Gardens where, without warning, Hard Rock Stadium started drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations, the first in Florida to offer the option to seniors 65 and older.
“Just come through the line, do the paperwork, get the shot, and then wait, and then they’re off for the rest of the day,” DeSantis said.
“It’s been difficult. It’s a journey, but thank God we’re here now,” one woman said. “Hopefully, we’ll all be vaccinated and get rid of this COVID.”
The governor, his second-in-command and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava conducted a walk-through of the site.
Piedad Echeverry was one of the first to receive the vaccine at Hard Rock Stadium.
“My daughter called, and she made the appointment,” she said. “Very, very good and very happy.”
Officials said that once the site is up and running, they’ll be able to give out 1,000 shots a day. Appointments are required.
“What they have set up is a soft opening to make sure things are working well,” DeSantis said, “so they’re doing two lanes of cars through for the vaccinations, and that’s gonna be the case for the next couple of days, and then we’re gonna be expanding it and providing the general public with ways that they can get appointments.”
On Thursday, the state reached a new one-day record in new COVID-19 cases. The Florida Department of Health reported 19,816 new infections, with a positivity rate of approximately 10% across South Florida.
Local leaders said the clock is ticking to administer more doses to Miami-Dade’s most vulnerable.
Seniors were seen lining up in Miami, as Jackson Health rolled into the second day of vaccine distributions.
DeSantis said more vaccine doses are on their way.
“Right now, we’re scheduled for our next shipment statewide to get about 250,000 doses split between Pfizer and Moderna,” he said.
At last update, Levine Cava said that, so far, 32,000 doses have been given out to frontline healthcare workers and county residents 65 and up.
“It is truly all hands on deck to get these shots in people’s arms as fast as possible,” she said.
Levine Cava’s call to action comes as FDOH reported that more than one in 10 people in Miami-Dade are testing positive for COVID-19. On Thursday, the county recorded 3,373 new infections, bringing the county’s total case count to 318,115.
“We cannot give up precautions. More important than ever, masking, social distancing,” Levine Cava said.
Marlins Park is also in the process of being transformed into a COVID-19 vaccination site. It remains unknown when that site will start operating.
On Thursday, drive-thru vaccinations began at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale, by appointment only.
Markham Park in Sunrise saw another day of long lines as seniors waited for their vaccine appointment.
Memorial Healthcare System, meanwhile, has been administering the vaccines to seniors at their Hollywood and Miramar locations.
Thursday night, Baptist Health said they will be offering 12,000 vaccine doses by appointment only beginning Monday. Appointment slots will open on Friday.
To increase access to the vaccine, DeSantis said, some religious leaders will help with distribution.
“We’re going to be working with more churches, synagogues and other places of worship,” he said.
As of Thursday, health officials said, there are 22 confirmed cases of the more easily transmissible B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant in Florida. They urge South Florida to continue adhering to safety guidelines.
“We must use our mask, socially distance, wash disinfect,” said Levine Cava.
As COVID-19 infections continue to increase, City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said there is a silver lining.
“What’s fortunate is the hospitalizations lack where they were in the summer, given the amount of contagion in our community,” he said.
For more information about vaccination sites in Miami-Dade County, click here.
To schedule an appointment at Baptist Health, click here.
Appointments at Memorial Healthcare locations were filled as of Thursday night, but more slots are expected to open up once they receive another shipment of the vaccine. For more information, click here.
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