These destinations have transformed into centers dedicated to fighting the pandemic.
COVID-19 continues to ravage the hospitality and tourism industry—and throughout the pandemic, travel companies and destinations across the U.S. have been stepping up and pitching in however they can. These 10 types of destinations have been especially dynamic, transforming into COVID testing centers, and some are even now expanding into serving as vaccination sites. From the currently closed “Happiest Place on Earth” to a collection of luxury resort properties in American territories abroad—here are some of the most unconventional places to get tested and vaccinated to help fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Instead of roller coasters and funnel cakes, theme parks including Disneyland in Anaheim and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, which are both located in Southern California’s hard-hit region, have pivoted toward serving COVID vaccines as vaccination “super sites.” These destinations have the capacity to vaccinate thousands of people each day and are following regional orders to prioritize vaccine distribution.
Hotel and Resort Properties
Hotels and resort businesses such as Sandals Resorts, Hyatt, and North Carolina’s Tryon Resort have begun to offer on-site COVID testing. At Sandals, the complimentary COVID-19 antigen testing is offered to U.S. residents across all of Sandals resorts; test results are available within 24-48 hours so that travelers can ensure their negative result before departure. Hyatt is offering widespread complimentary, on-site COVID-19 testing options for guests traveling to the U.S. from all Hyatt resorts across the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. On the East Coast in North Carolina, Tryon Resort is acting as a mass vaccination site. Located on 1,600 acres in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and hosting 250 rooms, an equestrian center, and a 300,000 square-foot indoor arena—it’s an ideal destination for offering vaccines in mass quantities.
Sports Stadiums and Music Arenas
Instead of hosting ballgames, many popular sports and music arenas such as Petco Park, the Forum in Inglewood, the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Sonoma, and Dodger Stadium, and Texas’ Esports Stadium Arlington + EXPO Center have transformed into vaccination and testing sites. At the 100,000-square-foot Esports Stadium Arlington + EXPO Center—which is the largest dedicated esports facility in North America—locals can pull up to this massive arena that’s serving as Tarrant county’s vaccine hub. The county plans to occupy the space as long as necessary to completely administer the vaccine.
The Anaheim Convention Center, which would normally serve as a host for international conferences and a meeting site for group events in Orange County, has been serving as a COVID testing site since July of 2020. The center currently reigns as the largest exhibit facility on the West Coast and is located across the street from Disneyland Resort. Crowd favorite gatherings here have previously included WonderCon Anaheim, and Disney’s D23 Expo, within its 53 acres and 1.8 million square feet of function space.
The Transit Drive-in in Lockport in New York has traditionally been a beloved local spot to catch a drive-in film, with four screens—which is the biggest drive-in and the largest of its kind in the state—but has recently been serving as a vaccination site for the Niagara County Department of Health.
Live! Casino & Hotel in Maryland has turned their event center into a COVID vaccination site. Traditionally a AAA Four Diamond-rated Live! Casino & Hotel, the property team announced on January 19 that the Live! Event Center will be the distribution site for Anne Arundel County’s COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. Live! will host the clinic for several months that will vaccinate approximately 100 people per hour at four designated stations, by appointment only.
Just 26 miles off the coast of southern California is Catalina Island, a picturesque island escape. Beginning in December of 2020, individuals in the healthcare industry and first responders on Catalina Island began receiving their vaccinations at Descanso Beach Club which is normally a popular seasonal beach destination that draws thousands of visitors per week.
Traditionally, fairgrounds have been home to cheerful seasonal events such as festivals, sporting events, animal shows, expos, concerts, and county fairs. Now, they’re pivoting toward acting as testing sites. The Jockey Club at Sonoma County Fairgrounds and Petaluma Fairgrounds are now local testing sites, and down in Southern California, the Pomona Fairplex has pivoted toward becoming a vaccine supersite. There’s no shortage of parking spaces to pull up and fight the spread of COVID, where these visitors can hopefully plan to someday return to ride a Ferris wheel or watch a live music performance in a group setting.
College campuses such as Cal State Northridge and Soka University are converting into vaccination supersites in an effort to curb the spread in heavily impacted Southern California. On its first day open in January, the CSUN site administered approximately 2,400 vaccines and it is expected to have the capacity to administer vaccines to 12,000 people a day once it’s fully operational.
Many airports across the U.S. are now doubling as virus testing sites. Trendsetter San Francisco International Airport opened as the first airport rapid coronavirus testing site in the United States a number of months ago, and Oakland International just across the bay, which had also joined the fight, recently unveiled they’ll be rolling out COVID test vending machines. Other airport COVID testing sites include both Chicago O’Hare and Chicago Midway in the Windy City, as well as LAX, Tampa, Newark, and Minneapolis-St. Paul just to name a well-known few.