LAKE FOREST, CA — In what they hope is the beginning of the end of coronavirus across Orange County, Supervisors have shared that Disneyland Resort would be the first “supersite” for vaccinations, opening to the public this week. A new public relations firm has also been hired to assist with coronavirus vaccine education and acceptance, the OC Supervisors say.
In Orange County, 28 more residents are reported to have died due to coronavirus, and there were 3,258 newly infected in the county as of Tuesday. Only two of those who perished lived in assisted or skilled nursing facilities. A total of 2,220 residents are hospitalized, with 535 of those currently in Intensive Care Units.
Orange County’s adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 was released on Tuesdays and increased to 78.8 from 67.8 last week. The positivity rate rose from 17.1% to 19.5%.
The county’s Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures the cases in highly affected, needier parts of the county, rose to 24.2% from 23.4% last week.
Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s chief health officer, and HCA director, said officials surveyed patients in 13 hospitals and found that 54% of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients are 61 and older and 71% in ICU are 61-years-old or older. Nearly 72% of those in ICU on a ventilator are 61 and older, he added.
“If we don’t stop this, it will continue to be so,” Chau said of the high percentages of seniors afflicted with coronavirus.
Read: Disneyland Resort Opens As Vaccination Supersite In Orange County
“Seventy-five percent of those who have died in Orange County are also seniors, aged 65 or over,” Chau said. “I’m sorry, but we need to do something fast in our community. This is not just about reopening our economy — that’s important — but it is about taking care of our vulnerable community. Our seniors are dying, and we need to do everything we can to stop it.”
County officials have moved seniors 65 and older to the front of the line for vaccines, Chau said.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting voted 3-1 in favor of hiring the Idea Hall public relations firm to help officials convince residents, particularly in poorer neighborhoods, of the wisdom of getting vaccinated.
Officials are concerned about opposition to vaccines affecting the ability to reach herd immunity.
Supervisor Don Wagner voted against the contract, arguing that he wanted to wait until a detailed budget could be worked up for the project. He also argued that the county’s public information officers could do the job for no extra money.
However, Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she did not want to wait any longer and argued that county officials are already stretched thin and need extra help. Chau and Orange County CEO Frank Kim echoed that sentiment.
Bartlett also said she felt comfortable going with the Idea Hall firm because of its track record with the county working on its “Be Well” campaign.
The county also has reached a deal to have another super site for vaccines at Knott’s Berry Farm, said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, who was voted in as vice-chairman on Tuesday.
Officials are working on setting up a vaccination supersite at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa as well, Chaffee said. Ultimately, the county is aiming to have five regional supersites.
“We don’t have enough vaccine to open another one,” Chaffee said of opening a second supersite. “We can’t open up too much until we have the quantity of vaccine we need.”
Officials are planning a news conference Wednesday to open up the vaccine distribution site at Disneyland.
Multiple mobile sites are operating throughout the county, with officials currently working to vaccinate the elderly in skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, Chaffee said.
With another shipment of vaccines on Monday, the county has 40,000 doses in storage, Kim said.
There is a massive county push for volunteers at the vaccination supersites, both in the medical field and not, with as many as five more slated to open in the coming weeks and months.
County officials are also seeking volunteers to help with a range of services from traffic control to computer registrations, Chaffee said.
Volunteers can register at volunteers.oneoc.org.
Orange County has initiated the use of Othena, an app that will help residents both register for vaccination appointments and be reminded about the time to return. To date, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being distributed in the county require two doses, 21 days apart.
According to Othena, more than 50,000 vaccinations have been administered in Orange County, and each vaccination takes between four and five minutes.
How do you feel about the county’s vaccination plans? Let us know in the comments below, or by emailing your Patch editor.
This article originally appeared on the Lake Forest Patch