The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is once again lending a helping hand in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The horse racing association, which oversees Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park and Aqueduct, has opened up the first floor of Aqueduct in Queens, one of the early epicenters of the state’s COVID outbreak, as a state-run COVID vaccination hub.
Aqueduct joins Belmont Park, which has already been serving as a Northwell Health–operated vaccination distribution center. The latter was put into use on January 5, shortly after New York State administered its first vaccinations to healthcare workers.
“NYRA is pleased to be able to contribute to the mass vaccination effort underway across the state,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke in a statement. “New York State has led the way through this unprecedented public health crisis and we will continue to do our part to support this effort.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 900,000 COVID vaccine doses have been administered in New York State so far, with just under 84,000 people fully vaccinated (or 0.43 percent of the population). More than seven million New Yorkers, including countless frontline workers, teachers, grocery store workers and people aged 65 and older, are eligible to be vaccinated at present.
As early as March 28 of last year, NYRA offered up the then-closed Aqueduct racetrack to the state as a temporary COVID hospital, and in April, its parking lot was transformed into a drive-through COVID testing location (it is still a testing site to this day).