Amidst the mostly predictable things said at the 10-minute press conference announcing the new COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Palm Springs Convention Center, one statement, by Dr. Geoffrey Leung, stood out.
“Today is such an important event when we think about times that change the course of what happens,” said the physician, who is part of the Public Health department of the Riverside University Health System, at the Feb. 11 press conference. “This is one of those days for Palm Springs and the community.”
The new clinic—a joint effort of the county, the city of Palm Springs and Curative, Inc.—will open Friday, Feb. 12, with about 350 appointments, all of which were snapped up within a couple of hours of them being released online. Moving forward, the clinic will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Up to 500 shots can be given there per day—vaccine supplies permitting, of course. Appointments can be made at Curative.com or via the county’s vaccination site.
The clinic is located in the easternmost section of the convention center’s Oasis ballroom, just off the lawn area adjacent to Avenida Caballeros.
The Palm Springs Convention Center clinic is the second large public vaccination site in the Coachella Valley; the other is located at the fairgrounds in Indio. County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said the Palm Springs clinic will be a huge help to residents who live in Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs and the other portions of the western Coachella Valley—people who otherwise would have to drive to Indio to get vaccinated at a county-affiliated clinic.
“That’s about a 40-minute drive,” Perez said. “Not everyone can do that.”
Perez said the new clinic will help get shots into the arms of the valley’s most-vulnerable essential workers—some of whom may not even know they’re currently eligible to get vaccinated, along with all people age 65 and older. He cited a recent USCF study showing the elevated risks faced by people who keep the food system functioning.
“There are individuals that, unfortunately, have not been vaccinated, that should be vaccinated,” Perez said … “There’s a 40 percent higher chance, of individuals who work in certain industries, of dying as a result of COVID. Those individuals are farmworkers. Those individuals are grocery-store workers. Those individuals are folks who work in restaurants—specifically, one of the top positions (of people) who die as a result of COVID are the actual cooks.”
As of now, the two approved COVID-19 vaccines are in short supply. However, federal officials said this week that they don’t expect that to be the case for long. Dr. Anthony Fauci said today that he expected the vaccine supply to be plentiful enough by April for the wider population to begin receiving vaccinations. Several hours later, President Joe Biden that the country will have enough vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna for all Americans to be inoculated by the end of July. On top of that, Johnson and Johnson has said it expects to have 100 million does of its single-shot vaccine delivered to the U.S. government by the end of June, presuming it receives emergency-use authorization from the FDA as expected around the end of this month.
In other words, clinics such as the one at the Palm Springs Convention Center will be vital in getting as many people vaccinated as possible, as quickly as possible, once vaccine supplies increase—and given the arrival of more-contagious SARS-CoV-2 variants, time is of the essence.
“This site is part of a much larger effort to make sure that we build up capacity to provide vaccines in a easy and convenient way for all of our residents and citizens,” Leung said. “We do have over 200 community vaccine providers now, and that includes doctor’s offices, pharmacies and hospitals. This will allow us to reach our goal of vaccinating our entire population this year.”