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The city of Los Angeles is reportedly partnering with ridesharing giant Uber to provide thousands of free and discounted rides to South Los Angeles residents to the University of Southern California (USC) for their COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The partnership was reportedly made to ensure that those without cars can still get vaccinated and is funded by Uber and the nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said through a news release that South L.A. residents will have access to 15,000 free Uber rides and another 20,000 rides at 50% off to get to the city’s newest vaccination site at USC. “Equity drives every facet of our strategy to end the pandemic, but our efforts will come up short unless we shorten the distance between life-saving vaccines and our hardest-hit Angelenos,” Garcetti said via the statement.
Uber, for its part, is reportedly contributing about $500,000 worth of rides to those in South L.A. Back in Dec. 2020, the company committed up to 10 million free or discounted rides to help people get to their COVID-19 vaccine appointments. “Transportation should never be a barrier to getting the vaccine,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi reportedly said in a statement. The company also vowed to support the community “back again for their second and final dose” as well.
The new USC vaccine site, located in the area of Exposition Boulevard and Figueroa Street, will have the capacity to immunize up to 5,000 people a day, making it the second-largest vaccination site operated by the city. The Mayor described this vaccine site as “will help bring vaccines into communities most impacted by COVID-19.”
Vaccine supplies remain scarce, and the site will only be able to give out a few thousand doses in its first week. However, Garcetti said the City is determined to deliver doses to residents of South L.A. and every community. “Our partnerships with both USC and Uber will enable us to get shots into the arms of thousands more Angelenos every day and move us closer to defeating COVID-19,” he said.
The new vaccination center will open on Mar. 9, and operate daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be located near the Expo Park Metro Station, and comprise all seven levels of the Flower Street parking garage at Expo and Figueroa to accommodate drive up, walk-up, and patients who require additional access services. Vaccine appointments at city-operated sites can be made online or by calling 833-540-0473.
Uber had previously reportedly partnered with Walgreens to provide free rides to people in underserved communities for vaccine appointments at the pharmacy store chain.
As of Mar. 3, the city-run sites have reportedly administered 477,654 vaccines.