Santa Clara County officials and the chief executive of San Jose-based Bloom Energy on Monday announced a $199,000 donation to the Valley Medical Center Foundation to cover the purchase cost of a mobile COVID-19 vaccine unit.
The vaccination unit will target residents who are homebound, elderly and disabled as well as residents that live in the county's underserved areas that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
To date, some 301,000 residents age 16 and older, roughly 18 percent of the county's population, have been fully vaccinated.
"We know there are many more that we could reach ... with this mobile unit, and that is going to make all the difference in saving lives," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said Monday at a briefing to announce the donation.
Bloom Energy raised the roughly $200,000 after opening a COVID-19 testing lab at its manufacturing facility in Sunnyvale.
Using a PCR saliva test developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the lab has been able to process up to 10,000 tests with same-day results, according to Bloom, which collected a $5 donation from participating businesses, schools and other entities along with each test sample.
Bloom Energy CEO, chairman and founder KR Sridhar said the company began processing tests last year due to the frustration of waiting several days for its employees' test results.
"We wanted to keep our employees safe," Sridhar said. "Safety starts with our own employees and we were having trouble finding testing that could turn around fast enough and keep our employees safe."
Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county's COVID-19 testing and vaccination officer, said the mobile unit will enable the county to tackle vaccination inequities among communities that may not be able to access county-operated vaccination sites.
Fenstersheib also urged residents to sign up for a vaccination appointment via the county's website, sccfreevax.org, as soon as they become eligible.
"Get an appointment when it is your turn and hopefully, by the end of the summer, we will be a safe community (and) back to normal," he said. "That's my hope."