SAULT STE. MARIE -- As the finishing touches are placed on Sault Ste Marie’s COVID-19 community vaccination hub, Sault Area Hospital is assuring the public the COVID-19 Assessment Centre on Drive In Road is still open.

The announcement comes after some confusion in the community when the centre in the Sault’s west end was closed.

The Drive In Road site is still open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, the centre is not currently testing asymptomatic people unless they are part of a target group, such as caregivers or visitors to long-term care homes.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of ebb and flows,” said John Wolfe, manager of the assessment centre. “So when the criteria opens up, obviously we end up at large volumes. But currently we’re testing at approximately just under 200 per day.”

In the meantime, final preparations are underway at GFL Memorial Gardens, where the COVID-19 Community Vaccination Hub will open March 5.

“It’s been an immense amount of work and I can’t take credit for much of it,” said Dr. Jodie Stewart, CEO of Algoma District Medical Group and physician adviser to the Hub. “But the planning team on the ground has been hard at work on this for many weeks and multiple agencies pooling resources to pull off this endeavour for our community.”

Stewart said long-term care workers will be first in line to get their COVID-19 shot.

“Those people have all been contacted and their appointments booked already,” Stewart said.

After long-term care workers are vaccinated, and as vaccine supply grows, the Hub will expand to provide vaccinations to priority populations such as those 80 years of age or older, Indigenous adults and other provincial priority groups.