State officials are shutting down testing and vaccination for the coronavirus at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami-Dade County because of Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship game.
Testing at the popular location is unavailable throughout the day, while vaccinations will cease at noon Monday. The Florida Division of Emergency Management highlighted the changes Sunday.
The move comes as South Florida has seen the virus resurface in recent weeks following the winter holiday season. On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the stadium would transition into a drive-thru vaccination site in order to expedite the vaccine process in Florida’s most populous county.
The site was selected to handle COVID-19 testing and distribution due to its size and ability to reach a large number of residents. At a Wednesday news conference, County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava emphasized the importance of making vaccine shots widely available.
“It is truly all hands on deck to get these shots in people’s arms as fast as possible, because getting these vaccines into the community is the best way to protect the most vulnerable and fast forward us toward the end of this pandemic and the restoration of our economy,” Levine Cava said.
“Until we contain this pandemic, we cannot move forward fully with our economy.”
Other sites have also been set up across South Florida to help the state’s hardest-hit region escape the virus’s impact. Nearly 570,000 COVID-19 cases have emerged in the region since the pandemic began. Just under 8,300 people have died after contracting the virus in the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Hard Rock Stadium is typically home to the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes football teams. But the location was also chosen for this year’s title game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes, which will decide the top team in college football.
On Tuesday, the site will once again be fully reopened.