Health

Louisville health officials are ramping up operations at the city’s drive-thru vaccination center this week.

The Broadbent Arena drive-thru site began administering vaccines Monday. Vaccinations are only being given to people in tier 1a of the vaccination plan, which includes frontline health care workers.

At a virtual press briefing with the health department and Mayor Greg Fischer, Associate Medical Director Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage said 400 appointments were scheduled for Tuesday, double the number made available Monday.

“Yesterday was our launch, and it went very smoothly,” she said. “In fact, it went so smoothly that we called in some folks and we made extra appointments for today to increase our capacity.”

About 50 vehicles were served in the first hour of operation Tuesday. Vaccinations are expected to open to people in tier 1b in the coming weeks. Based on a plan outlined by the Beshear administration on Monday, 1b will include police, firefighters and other first responders, people aged 70 and older and K-12 teachers and staff. 

As vaccines become more widely available, Fischer said he wants to make sure the city is ready to deliver them effectively. On Wednesday, the recently-formed vaccine distribution task force will hold its first meeting.

The task force comprises a number of entities from across the health care spectrum, including Louisville’s major hospital systems and health worker associations. Bill Altman, who has been a consultant for Louisville’s testing efforts, will co-chair the task force with Hartlage.

Altman said developing a distribution plan will be an “all-hands-on-deck effort,” so that the number of available vaccines never outweighs the city’s ability to deliver them.

“The site out at Broadbent Arena is a critical part of what we’re doing, but it’s not going to be enough to get vaccines out to the broader community,” he said. “Especially as the supply chain opens and especially as we move into the later tiers, where the numbers of people who need to get vaccinated grow.”

Louisville health officials reported an increase in COVID-19 cases last week. Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer announced 2,991 cases at the Tuesday briefing.

Moyer said holiday gatherings likely played a role in the increase in cases, but hospitalizations have leveled off.

“It [COVID-19] doesn’t care about holidays, so we’re seeing those numbers trend up a little bit, but, thankfully, our hospitalization numbers are at a plateau,” she said. “It’s a high plateau. I know our health care workers are tired and very excited about the vaccine.

Louisville is still in the red zone, with 55.7 cases per 100,000 people. Moyer also reported 28 additional deaths last week.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.