City of Tucson to begin free COVID-19 testing program

Tucson to begin free testing

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson City Council voted unanimously to begin a COVID-19 testing program using millions of federal dollars given to the city by the CAREs Act passed by Congress.

The program will test all city employees who consent and members of the general public who meet the criteria.

“We would test as many as 200,000 Tucsonans in the next two months,” said Ward 2 City Council member Paul Cunningham, who is spearheading the effort. “This is a program we should have had two or three weeks ago but we’re going to have it now.”

Cunningham says it took two weeks to fully vet the program before he presented it to the full council for a vote.

“We were very thorough,” he said.

He says the city should be able to put the testing program together and administer it for $3 to $4 million.

The city will receive $95 million in federal money through the CAREs Act, which will be used to fight COVID-19.

He believes the testing program would qualify as a legitimate use of the money.

He hopes to have the program up and running by June 1st.

The city is not going in totally alone. It will also partner with the University of Arizona and the Pima County Health Department.

The health department’s director, Dr. Bob Engand, had a warning for the city saying “it’s about more than money.”

The county has been ordering testing supplies since March and still has not received much of it.

Cunningham feels the city has adequate resources to overcome that problem.

The city will set up testing sites in each of its six wards. The tests will be free to the public.

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