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Cerro Gordo County supervisors approve agreement to set up vaccination clinic in old Sears store

MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors today approved a lease agreement between the county’s Department of Public Health and the Southport Shopping Center Limited Partnership that would allow the department to use the former Sears store as a central location for COVID vaccinations.

Department director Brian Hanft says the Southport ownership is providing the old store space rent-free, with the county only having to pay for utilities and cost of taxes, which will allow for plenty of space for people to walk in and be vaccinated.  “We initially looked at the drive-thru site out there using the garage locations where they have mechanical options, and that didn’t really fit our needs, and quite a bit of repairs would need to be done. We had then talked with the owner of that building through realtor Brent Schoneman, and we found out we could use the interior portion where it was retail space just as easy, so we shifted gears looking at that location.”

Hanft is grateful to the Southport ownership for assisting the county in finding a mass vaccination location. “It’s a license agreement to utilize the space as-is from now until  basically when we’re done with it. We start out with a four month lease that takes us through April, and then we go month-by-month. So really there’s no huge liability for the county, and again I just want to say thank you to that particular owner, they do live out on the west coast, but they recognize the situation that all counties and the country is in in trying to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”

Hanft says the store space will allow them to spread out and serve the public.  “This location will basically give ample parking space, very good access, and we can expand the size of that set-up inside basically as large as we need it, literally 90,000 square feet in that space.”

Hanft says once the location is ready to go, it will help speed up distributing vaccinations as people will be coming to one central location instead of his department going to multiple places.  “Once we are set up then we’ll ask most of our community partners who are considered 1A or 1B groups to come to us rather than we travel around and try to administer vaccine that way. It seems to be a more efficient use of our time as we administer that.”

Hanft says they hope to have the vaccination center ready to open by January 15th.

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