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Crowds Flock For Vaccine As ‘Stay Home’ Order Lifts
The crowds curled around the block and parking was near to impossible to find as residents flocked to the Gladys Lemmon Senior Center on Tuesday, Jan. 26 to receive the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. People started lining up at 2 a.m. for the 9 a.m. event as there were only 500 doses available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The City of Oakdale and Stanislaus County Public Health are working together for this ongoing effort. New clinics will be scheduled as the county receives more doses. KIM VAN METER/THE LEADER

Citizens came en masse to the Gladys Lemmon Senior Center on East A Street in Oakdale, some as early as 2 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26 for a chance to get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the city’s first vaccination clinic.

The line reached around the block, city streets were crammed like downtown San Francisco as people tried to find a sliver of real estate big enough to park their vehicle in the hopes of being one of the lucky 500 people to get the vaccine.

Only Stanislaus County residents were eligible and proof of residency was required, with just 500 doses allotted for this first clinic.

According to Jane Finkenbine, Recreation Services Coordinator for the City of Oakdale, the city is working with Stanislaus County Public Health to coordinate the vaccine clinics. Tuesday’s clinic will be one of many as more doses are distributed countywide.

Finkenbine said of the line that curled around the block, “This makes me sad but this is a very good thing. This is one of many clinics, as they get more doses, more dates will be added.”

A county health officer used a clicker to keep track of how many people were in line. Once the clicker reached 500, they would start turning people away so they didn’t stand in the cold for no reason.

Currently, the vaccine is only available to Phase 1A recipients, which include: seniors age 65 and older; Healthcare workers; and Long-term care residents. This subgroup of California residents represents approximately 3 million people.

And even as the crowd waited in the early morning near-freezing temperatures on Tuesday, the vaccination clinic came on the heels of a long-awaited announcement.

On Monday afternoon, Jan. 25, Stanislaus County officially moved back to the Purple, or Widespread, Tier after the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that the Regional Stay-At-Home Order had been lifted in the San Joaquin Valley region due to the fact that the ICU capacity is projected to be at 15 percent in four weeks. The Limited Stay At-Home Order curfew also ended.

County officials said the lifting of the order will allow some businesses to reopen after being closed since Dec. 5, 2020. Officials noted that a return to the Purple Tier will likely drastically improve the local economy and several local businesses will now be able to resume operations with some modifications.

As part of the Purple Tier in the state’s ‘blueprint’ the following businesses will be able to operate with the following restrictions:

Family entertainment centers: Outdoors only with modifications

Gyms and fitness centers: Outdoors only with modifications

Hair Salons and Barber Shops: Indoors with modifications

Movie theaters: Outdoors only with modifications

Museums, zoos and aquariums: Outdoors only with modifications

Personal Care Services: Open indoors with modifications

Places of worship: Outdoors only with modifications

Retail: Open indoors with a maximum of 25 percent occupancy

Restaurants: Outdoors only with modifications

Shopping centers: Open indoors with a maximum of 25 percent occupancy.

Figures from Stanislaus County, meanwhile, show 44,852 positive coronavirus cases reported in the county with 803 deaths as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday Jan. 26. There have been 40,773 recovered cases.

To move back into the next least restrictive ‘red’ tier, residents can help by slowing the spread and following the Health Orders and guidelines: wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, practice physical distancing, be tested, and limit mixing with people outside your household. For additional information about the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Industry Guidance, or to find out what is open, visit


Leader Editor Marg Jackson and Reporter Kim Van Meter contributed to this story.