As Illinois' COVID vaccine supply ramps up, the United Center will be used as a mass vaccination site capable of vaccinating 5,000 to 7,000 people a day, a source close to the situation confirmed to ABC7.
ERIC HORNG: It's a venue better known for jump shots and slap shots. But in less than two weeks, the COVID shot will be the United Center's main event. Tonight, crews clearing parking lots of snow, preparing for the arrival of heavy equipment.
WALTER BURNETT: They are ready. And they're ready to do whatever's needed to do in order to get people in and out and get their vaccines.
ERIC HORNG: Walter Burnett is the Alderman of the 27th Ward, which is home to the United Center. He confirmed this cathedral of Chicago sports will become a federally run mass vaccination site.
WALTER BURNETT: You have a lot of good transportation with the expressway, the trains. You have two train systems, the green line and the blue line buses. You also have a community that's used to having traffic in it.
ERIC HORNG: Multiple sources tell ABC7 the arena itself won't be utilized, but rather the parking lots will be used for drive through and walk up vaccinations. The goal is to open March 10 and administer as many as 7,000 daily doses with a focus on minority communities that have been slow to get the shot.
HANI MAHMASSANI: What you're looking at here is essentially increasing the vaccination rate for the city from, well, by about 50% to 70%, which is very, very significant.
ERIC HORNG: In a statement, a spokesperson said, "Governor Pritzker believes the Biden administration's efforts to launch high capacity vaccination sites across the country are essential to equity. And he appreciates the robust collaboration with the president and his team." We expect to learn more about the site including how people can schedule appointments when the formal announcement is made in the morning.