SOUTH LOS ANGELES — How do we continue the fight against COVID-19?
It's been the question on millions of people's minds for the last eight months, but especially to the health care providers and first responders working on the front lines.
“All of a sudden you were going to work every single day knowing you were a health care provider and next thing you know, you’re a health care provider working in a pandemic,” said Dr. Alyssa Butts of the St. John Well Child and Family Center.
At first, the state's biggest hurdle was mobilizing widespread testing — something she and her team have long prioritized.
“We have our COVID tents," Dr. Butts explained. "One for asymptomatic and then our symptomatic COVID testing.”
By adapting quickly, the South L.A. clinic was able to create specific areas for testing under one COVID command center.
With testing running smoothly, her attention and that of millions across the country is on, not a test, but a vaccine.
"We’re going and seeing this every day," she said, "Multiple patients with COVID, so it would be nice to have a little bit of shielding for that."
The pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, may help bring her that peace of mind.
On Monday, Pfizer announced that early data showed its coronavirus vaccine candidate may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19.
And though it may still be several months until any vaccine is ready for widespread roll-out, Los Angeles County Supervisor, Janice Hahn says it's a staunch reminder the county should be getting ready now.
“I know everybody wants to get back to normal, we want our schools to reopen, get back to work," she said. "I knew we needed to get ready, how we’re going to distribute it, who our partners will be.”
Rolling out the vaccine to the county's more than 10 million residents will be no easy task and will take the cooperation of many parties.
“That then when this vaccine becomes available, we are ready to hit the ground running and that means storage, partners already in place, and what I would really like to see is the county come out with a unified message to the public," Hahn explained.
But one message the state has been clear on is that the vaccine, when available, will be rolled out in phases.
Health care workers and first responders will be first in line, followed by those who are at higher risk of transmission, populations like those served by Dr. Butts.
“For African Americans, Latino, and homeless populations, if we’re able to give them the vaccine and if it’s 90% effective, we can reduce drastically the transmission of COVID," Dr. Butts said.
She knows that local testing sites may come to play an important role for distribution and Hahn believes LAUSD school sites can also provide a great resource.
“We already have these tent sites set up that we can offer the COVID vaccine if we want," Dr. Butts said.
She and Hahn are ready and waiting for this next big step in the global fight.