"The Disneyland Resort ... has stepped up to host the county's first Super POD site," said Orange County First District Supervisor Andrew Do

By Jen Juneau and Mackenzie Schmidt
January 12, 2021 12:41 PM
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Disneyland Resort sign
| Credit: David McNew/Getty

The Happiest Place on Earth is taking a huge step toward ensuring the ongoing safety of its community members as COVID-19 vaccine distributions continue to roll out across the country.

Orange County, California, officials announced on Monday that Disneyland Resort, whose parks have been closed to guests since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. last March, will become the first mass point-of-dispensing (POD) site of vaccinations for the virus, with the ability to administer thousands of vaccines per day starting later this week.

"The Disneyland Resort, the largest employer in the heart of Orange County, has stepped up to host the county's first Super POD site — undertaking a monumental task in our vaccination distribution process," said Orange County First District Supervisor Andrew Do in a press release. "We truly appreciate the support of the Orange County Fire Authority, our cities and our residents as we continue to rollout COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the county."

In a statement to PEOPLE, Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks Experiences and Products, says, "Disneyland Resort is proud to help support Orange County and the City of Anaheim with the use of our parking lot, and we are grateful for all of their efforts to combat COVID-19."

"After a year in which so many in our community have faced unprecedented hardship and uncertainty, there is now reason for optimism with the administration of a vaccine," she adds.

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Disneyland Resort
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Alongside the Disneyland site is Dodger Stadium, which will be phased out from a testing location effective immediately and changed to a mass-vaccination site by the end of the week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's office said in a statement published Monday.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 191,861 COVID-19 cases reported in Orange County alone, with 2,120 deaths to date, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

As of Thursday, in neighboring Los Angeles County, officials were recording one coronavirus-related death every eight minutes.

"A person now dies every 8 minutes from #COVID19 in LA County," Los Angeles County's verified Twitter account posted on Thursday. "Stay home to save lives, always wear a mask when out for essentials and avoid gathering with people you don't live with."

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
| Credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

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Downtown Disney, the parks' shopping and retail destination, has been open with extensive new health and safety protocols since July. Disneyland Resort was able to reopen a portion of Buena Vista Street, the main drag of its California Adventure Park, but was forced last month to roll back operations following a stay-at-home order for Southern California, according to the Orange County Register.

As of Tuesday morning, there have been more than 22,600,000 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and at least 376,476 coronavirus-related deaths, according to a New York Times database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.