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TimesOC: Orange County to close mass vaccination sites and shift focus on neighborhood clinics

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TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Friday, May 7. I’m Ben Brazil, bringing you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

Orange County is preparing to close several COVID-19 mass vaccination sites and will be focusing vaccination efforts on neighborhood clinics.

The Anaheim Convention Center, OC Fair & Event Center, Soka University and Santa Ana College will close on June 6.

Reporter Rong-Gong Lin II writes that the decision was made because the demand for first doses has dropped by more than 75% since the end of April.

“Vaccine supply has become more plentiful, and alternative distribution channels, such as local pharmacies, hospitals, healthcare systems, community clinics and providers are more actively administering doses,” county officials said.

This comes as cases continue to drop in the county, which reported 38 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths on Thursday.

Lin II writes that experts have expected demand for vaccinations to slow. The focus will now shift to getting low-income populations vaccinated.

Underserved populations may not have been able to get transportation to the mass vaccination centers and may prefer or trust their neighborhood clinic over the county vaccination sites, the report states.

About 9% of the population that has received at least one vaccine dose in Orange County is Latino, despite that demographic accounting for 35% of the county’s population, according to county data. In comparison, white residents of Orange County make up about 39% of the population and account for about 21% of the recipients of at least one vaccine dose in the county.

There have been concerns throughout the pandemic that the county hasn’t adequately included underserved communities in its vaccine distribution plans, which focused on mass sites called Super PODs.

Doctors and leaders of local community health centers and clinics have held that they are well-equipped to treat underserved communities. With the shift away from mass vaccination sites, that claim may be put to the test. However, as Voice of OC’s Spencer Custodio reported this week, local health clinics are already “facing a funding crisis.”

Custodio reported that county officials have said they will allocate more money to the community clinics.

Appointment holders wait in line at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Costa Mesa.
Appointment holders wait in line at the COVID-19 vaccination super POD site at the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

NEWS

— Huntington Beach made access to the beach easier for those with disabilities this week after it debuted its first “Mobi-Mat,” a long blue mat that can be rolled out over the sand so people with wheelchairs can access the beach.

— An Orange County restaurant is donating all sales between May 10 and May 16 to the American Indian Foundation, to help support India as it deals with one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world.

— Costa Mesa adopted legislation to regulate cannabis businesses in the city to weed out bad actors. The law will also ban pot shops from being within 600 feet of youth centers and will impose a 7% tax on all cannabis goods.

— The city of Santa Ana has obtained an abatement warrant in order to clear a homeless encampment in the parking lots of a Mexican cultural center. The encampment has been a subject of controversy as it has grown over the last year amid the pandemic.

— For about a decade, San Juan Capistrano residents have been awaiting the development of a 41-acre equestrian center atop a hillside. The project has stalled and it is unclear if it will ever be developed.

— The Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach is filled with hundreds of orphaned baby ducklings at this time every year. Partly due to the pandemic, there are more than usual in 2021.

SPORTS

— The Angels have released Albert Pujols, a player that had much fanfare when he arrived to Anaheim years ago, but ended up not making much noise despite a huge contract.

— The Angels have placed third baseman Anthony Rendon on a 10-day injured list after he injured his knee. Rendon missed two weeks in April because of a groin strain.

— A roundup of high school sports from around Orange County’s coastal cities, including a recounting of the Estancia High golf team’s win streak.

— The Edison High School boys’ soccer team claimed the league title for the fifth straight time.

LIFE & LEISURE

— The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art has reopened after a pandemic-related closure and is focusing on healing with its latest exhibit, “Collaborate, Create and Heal.”

OPINION

— Columnist B.W. Cook wrote about his need for a kidney transplant and the women who helped save his life. As Mother’s Day approaches, Cook said it’s important to celebrate the moms in your life.