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Esperanza Community COVID-19 Vaccination Center In North Philadelphia Opens To Public On Saturday

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- With COVID-19 cases continuing to spread across Pennsylvania, Philadelphia opened its second FEMA mass vaccination site on Friday in a neighborhood that's been hard hit by the virus and with low rates of vaccinations. Philadelphia reported 626 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, which is the highest one-day number since January.

The spike in cases is particularly concerning to minority communities, which face a higher risk and have lower vaccination rates. The city hopes to change that trend with the new FEMA site.

"We rejoice in the opening of this site," Esperanza Community Center CEO Rev. Luis Cortes said.

Philadelphia's second FEMA mass vaccination site will be at the Esperanza Community Center in Hunting Park.

"Location matters. People are more likely to go to vaccination sites that are close to where they live," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. "That's the main reason why we're here at this clinic here today."

Neighborhoods around this center have the lowest vaccination rates in the city. Only 14% of Hispanics have received a first dose.

"This new clinic is one example of how we are working aggressively to reduce and eliminate the inequality," Mayor Jim Kenney said.

"I'm Puerto Rican. I live in a Hispanic community and we needed this," Jonathan Gonzalez said.

COVID-19 has been rampant among minorities and has hit Hispanics especially hard.

"We contract COVID at a higher rate than any other community, mostly because our folks tend to be essential workers," Cortes said. "We die at a higher rate than from COVID than any other community."

The center is expected to provide about 2,000 shots per day, first with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and then switching to Pfizer.

"It's really, really nice because I'm only like five minutes from here," Jeanetta Cooper said.

The city's first FEMA site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center has been mainly used by white people. The city is now focused on making vaccine available in more underserved neighborhoods.

"I really like how everyone has come together to kind of help bring it to different areas in north of Philadelphia to kind of get it closer to those elder, especially that struggle to drive around and get around," Danisa Perez said.

The Esperanza Community Center FEMA site will give vaccinations to both people with appointments and walk-ins.

The city moves to a larger group of 1C eligible for vaccinations on Monday.

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