New Vaccination Site at Trumbull Fairgrounds Will Triple Capacity
CORTLAND, Ohio – A new building under construction at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds will allow county health personnel to triple the speed at which COVID-19 vaccinations can be administered.
Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda and representatives of the county health department and fair board joined U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan at the fairgrounds Tuesday for a media event to discuss the project.
The Trumbull County Board of Commissioners recently approved spending up to $400,000 from the county’s allocation of funds from the federal coronavirus relief package passed last spring.
“This is exactly what it’s for. This money is meant to be spent to figure out how to facilitate mass vaccinations,” said Ryan, D-13.
The new building will be 65 feet wide by 130 feet in length, said Jack Simon, a member of the Trumbull County Combined Health District who spearheaded the project. Though commissioners appropriated up to $400,000 for the building, he estimated it could be built for under $300,000.
The decision to build the structure at the fairgrounds was made following extensive research and discussion, said county health commissioner Frank Migliozzi. Several alternative sites were considered but a drive-thru process using a centralized site such as the fairgrounds was “the most feasible way to handle large amounts of traffic” and will be “the most conducive” to the departments’ activities.
“Its initial use is to continue the mass vaccination clinics,” Simon said. The building now being used, the old Bazetta fire station, is old, drafty and can only accommodate a couple of vehicles at a time. On top of that, county health department staff now have to deal with inclement weather and work under “less than ideal conditions,” Migliozzi said.
“I’ve talked to many of the workers. They’re freezing outside,” Fuda affirmed.
The new structure, which will have three lanes of traffic, allowing for up to vehicles to be served at once, or up to 200 people per hour. The building will be heated.
“We have to have the ability to have a lot of throughput,” Migliozzi said. “Having individuals be able to get out, walk a distance and keep them socially distanced is a challenge in and of itself, so the most efficient way to do that is keep individuals in their vehicles.”
The new building also will provide space for other coronavirus-related purposes, such as food distributions and storage for personal protective equipment for first responders.
“Utilizing a structure like this will decrease the need for us to transfer supplies and equipment back and forth between facilities to streamline our operations,” Migliozzi said. “Every hour we save is an hour we can use to combat this pandemic.”
Construction of the building will take about six weeks, Simon said. Construction should begin as soon as county commissioners receive and approve a written bid for the structure.
Both Simon and Fuda expect the building to remain in coronavirus-related use for several months more, possibly into next year and beyond.
“It’s going to be months before we even finish the vaccinations,” Simon said, noting that another round of vaccinations might be necessary if the virus surges again or address variant strains become prominent.
“We don’t know how long this pandemic’s going to go on. Next year, we’re probably still going to need this building,” Fuda agreed. “We don’t know if we’re going to have to have vaccines next year or the following year.”
Congress is in the process of negotiating another coronavirus relief package that could come up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in the next week or two, Ryan said. The legislation could include expanded unemployment benefits, $1,400 checks for qualifying individuals, money for rent assistance and utility payments and additional help for small businesses.
Ryan said he was unsure if the legislation, which Democrats may pass using budget reconciliation to allow them to avoid a Republican filibuster in the evenly divided U.S. Senate, would get any GOP support in the house, but was more optimistic about it in the upper chamber.
“A lot of them are interested in doing it,” but are unsure about the $1.9 trillion figure that has been discussed, he said.
Pictured: Trumbull County Combined Health District board member Jack Simon shows U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan the site where the county will build its drive-thru vaccination building.
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