Still, many health officials warn that balance is needed to ensure Covid-19 testing continues even as the country pushes for more coronavirus vaccinations
“It makes sense to convert some of the big venues from testing to vaccination, at least for the time being – just because we need to start upscaling vaccination, but I think there’s a balance,” Plescia said.
“We can not just switch everything to vaccinations,” he said. “We need to continue to have some resources where people can be tested.”
Ball parks are being transformed into massive vaccination sites
The announcement noted that the shift in resources “will temporarily reduce testing capacity” in LA County, but “it will more than triple the number of daily vaccines” available to the local population.
“Vaccines are the safest way to defeat this virus and chart a course towards recovery, so the city, county and our entire team put our best resources on track to get Angelenos vaccinated as quickly, safely and effectively as possible.”
“These stadiums are wonderful areas to be used for greater mass vaccination efforts,” Freeman said, but she added that testing is still a priority.
“We have so many places across the country that are still experiencing high levels of transmission and re-emergence of diseases that we cannot afford to fail testing right now,” she said. “We are too early in the vaccination process to do that because we still need to mitigate and control the spread of the disease, even when we vaccinate.”
More mass vaccination sites are likely to emerge after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Tuesday that the federal government would help states set them up.
‘We must not vaccinate our way out of the current wave
After taking a dip in late December, the test across the United States went back to the record high it had reached before the holidays. According to the Covid Tracking Project, the seven-day average of new tests has reached more than 1.9 million a day and has never been higher.
“Counties and local public health departments will find ways to continue to perform tests and perform mass-scale testing,” Bryant said.
Renaming stadiums and other major venues for vaccines will be a good thing for vaccine delivery, she said. “As far as testing is concerned, we at the local public health level know that it is still very important and we would not do one to sacrifice the other.”
Tests and vaccinations serve different purposes.
“In an ideal world, we would have sufficient resources to optimize vaccine deployment as well as continue testing with the necessary amounts,” she said. “I think there will always be something to give and take.”
Plescia, from the Association of Officials and Territorial Health Officials, agrees that vaccination is the way out of the pandemic – but it is not the way out of record high cases and deaths that the country is experiencing now.
“This problem we are in right now with rapidly rising infection rates, with hospitals being filled with more and more people dying, we will not vaccinate our way out of it,” Plescia said.
“What we’re doing now with vaccination is not really going to bear fruit for months. So to control what’s going on now, we have to keep testing, isolating and quarantining people, getting people to to wear masks and maintain social distance. “