AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Authorities in Houston are opening a giant COVID-19 vaccination center that will serve an estimated 126,000 people over the next three weeks.
The federally funded site will fully open Wednesday at Houston’s NRG Park, near the home stadium of the NFL’s Houston Texans. Staff will distribute first doses seven days a week for three weeks, then transition to second doses.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s chief elected official, says authorities will prioritize people who live in areas hardest hit by the coronavirus. Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner say their staffs have identified ZIP codes where people have been most affected and lack the same access as other places to medical care.
The site opens as Texans recover from a devastating winter storm that killed at least 35 people and left millions without power and water. While Houston and other cities have lifted boil orders on drinking water, many people are still affected by broken pipes and shutoffs of systems.
Says Hidalgo, “It’s been trauma after trauma, and people deserve some good news, some hope.”
On Monday, the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University. The staggering number all but matches the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined.
The COVID-19 death toll in Texas is at over 42,000, the third highest in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported again Monday that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had once again dropped, to 6,964. Hospitalizations have been steadily dropping since mid-January.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Texas has decreased by 12,398.1, a decrease of 73.2%, according to Johns Hopkins.
State health officials say over 1.3 million Texans have been fully vaccinated so far.