Across the country, sports stadiums are being used as COVID-19 vaccinations hubs, from drive-ins in Phoenix to mass inoculations at Fenway Park, and now Yankee stadium, which opened last Friday as a vaccination mega site.
The stadium successfully opened after a lack of supply temporarily delayed plans to transform stadiums into vaccination hubs. Citi Field opens on Wednesday, and Mets owner Steve Cohen has pledged to pitch in.
"Anyway the organization could help support this effort we were going to do it" said Cohen last month. "We had talked about being involved in our communities and I can't think of any way that's more important."
Supply issues are a hurdle even as some debate how athletes and franchises could or should help. Two weeks before his death, baseball legend Hank Aaron got inoculated to encourage trust in the vaccines in the Black community, where some remain skeptical.
Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar followed suit and wrote a New York Times op-ed advocating for letting some NBA players to get vaccinated for the same reason. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has also floated the idea. But some, like Summer McGee who serves as the dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, opposes having young, healthy athletes skipping the line when there still is not enough vaccines for the vulnerable.
"I think it's critical for celebrities and others influencers that are out there to take a stand on this issue, to back science and to raise their voice. I don't think they should jump ahead in line" said Dr. McGee.
She says athletes can play a vital role in promoting vaccinations. But others like psychotherapist Dr. Sola Togun, who works primarily with communities of color, says fears surrounding the vaccine are deep rooted, because of past mistreatment by the scientific community.
"The reason that the anxiety is there is looking at historical factors" said Togun-Butler who believes many may need an endorsement from someone they respect.
"So that would be, of course, NBA players because many community members look up to them" said Togun-Butler. "They're very influential, a lot of them have done a lot of grassroots positive work, so I feel like if they were to get the vaccination and people see them getting the vaccination, I do believe it's a step in the right direction."
Aside from the Nets' Kevin Durant, who called former NBA great and current sports commentator Charles Barley an idiot for saying NBA players should get vaccines because they pay more taxes, most New York sports stars have said little on the topic.
Several teams we contacted have said their organizations are considering ways to help, even if they don't have it figured out yet.