Long Beach health officials said they are still on track to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 Friday and Saturday as winter storms slamming into parts of the country have prompted closures at other locations throughout Southern California.
As of Thursday, city health officials were confident they had enough vaccine supply to last two more days, but they are still not sure what the effects of the inclement weather will be for the city’s supply line next week, Long Beach Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy said.
“This could affect our supply here in Long Beach,” Colopy said during a press conference Thursday. “We have not cancelled vaccine appointments to date based on that. We have sufficient capacity.”
Images of frozen water faucets, ruptured pipes and widespread loss of electricity to homes as a result of the storm were shared over social media as freezing temperatures walloped Texas and other southeastern states.
Mayor Robert Garcia said during Thursday’s press conference that the city was averaging 68 COVID-19 cases per day and hospitalizations were down by 36% from a month ago. The city reported 10 new deaths on Thursday for a total of 797.
While vaccine supplies in Long Beach are expected to last until Saturday, the delays had an immediate effect on other local jurisdictions. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday that city-run vaccination clinics on Friday would be postponed. About 12,500 patients were scheduled to receive a dose of the vaccine at sites in Los Angeles.
“Severe weather across the country has disrupted travel and shipping nationwide, including delaying the delivery of our vaccines,” Garcetti said. “Our city is ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines swiftly, safely and equitably—and as soon as doses arrive in Los Angeles, we will get them into people’s arms immediately.”
The weather-related delays of vaccine shipments also prompted the closure of clinics in Orange County and delays in San Diego County. The Desert Sun also reported that Riverside County vaccination sites were impacted by the freezing weather.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported that “there are no weather impacts” to county-run COVID-19 vaccination sites, so appointments at county sites are unaffected. However, the agency stated, “it is not yet known what, if any, impact will be felt into next week.”
The developments came as the vaccination drive ramps up across the county. The United States is administering an average of nearly 1.7 million doses per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Long Beach, close to 80,000 vaccines have been distributed to eligible groups including frontline workers, food workers, seniors and teachers.
City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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