Philadelphia Mayor Kenney urged to use Lincoln Financial Field as mass COVID-19 vaccination site

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- At Levi Stadium in San Francisco, it's a walk-up program. Outside Dodger stadium in Los Angeles are lines of cars, full of people ready to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why not in Philadelphia, at Lincoln Financial Field?

On Wednesday, members of city council and former leaders publicly asked that question.

Mayor Jim Kenney has opposed a mass vaccination site at the Linc.

"Join with us, work together. We don't have to work in silos," said Councilwoman Cindy Bass.

Calling this plan "Operation Philly Special," council members Allan Domb, Cindy Bass, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Mark Squilla and Derek Green were joined by former congressman Bob Brady and former mayor John Street to urge Mayor Kenney to reconsider his position.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley summed up the administration's position at a news conference on Tuesday.

"If we ran a mass clinic down there we would be vaccinating more people from New Jersey or Delaware than we would for the city of Philadephia," he said.

Councilman Mark Squilla, who is for the stadium vaccination site, says, "We don't need excuses, we don't need people saying why we can't do something. Whether it's from someone coming from another county or New Jersey."

One issue raised by the mayor is equity. A drive thru-clinic would prevent those without vehicles from participating.

The coalition fighting for the stadium site says SEPTA could be integral in helping people get to the South Philadelphia complex. There is a Broad Street Line station at Broad and Pattison streets.

On Wednesday, a city spokesperson released a statement in response to this plan, saying:

"We ask Councilman Domb and other supporters this: are you deliberately trying to ensure that white privileged suburban residents of other counties and states are prioritized for vaccination over Black and brown taxpayers of Philadelphia? Because that is what this plan will do. It is frankly disheartening that some members of Council, who have rightly advocated for equity in vaccinations, would support a proposal that would fully derail our efforts to achieve equity.

Our approach, in fact, prioritizes communities of color by locating vaccination clinics in those very communities - not in a remote location that's more readily accessible to residents of South Jersey and Delaware. And we note that our approach has been endorsed by the Black Doctors COVID Consortium."

To which Councilmember Allan Domb responded, "It's kind of an insulting comment to make but I will say this: our goal is to have Dr. Stanford from the Black Doctors Covid Consortium organie this and if anyone has worked with Dr. Stanford you will know she is probably doing one of the best jobs in the city to make sure there's access and equity."

Dr. Ala Stanford says that she's seeing people who aren't from low-income communities take advantage of her vaccine clinics, essentially jumping in front of the neediest people. She'll soon be requiring some proof of residency at her vaccination clinics.

In terms of this "Operation Philly Special" plan, Dr. Stanford says there is work still to be done to make it equitable for all.

"A lot of folks don't go to the Linc, let's be honest, even when it's warm out. So, just the fact that there's a subway stop there, is not long to be enough for some folks," said Dr. Stanford.

SEPTA says it will be on board with any plan approved by the city to help with transportation. But to note, the Philadelphia Convention center site has abundant access by train or bus.
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