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Pima County Supervisor asking for FEMA vaccination POD sites after state rejects them

Updated: Mar. 23, 2021 at 10:37 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Local leaders are taking action after the Arizona State Department of Health rejected FEMA’s help to set up vaccination sites in Pima County.

Supervisor Matt Heinz wrote a letter to the White House asking if the county could still request FEMA’s help.

“We don’t have enough vaccine and frankly--we just barely in Pima County opened things up to essential front-line workers,” said Heinz.

One of two PODs in Arizona was set to be in Supervisor Matt Heinz’s district, at El Pueblo Health, bringing thousands of extra doses to his constituents that are made up of underserved Latino and Black families.

“It’s gonna check off so many boxes in terms of working on getting this distribution more equitable and faster to these communities,” said Heinz.

AZDHS said the sites were denied after seeing what happened in other states. AZDHS Director Dr. Cara Christ noted they would require extra resources that outweighed the benefits.

“It still requires significant state resources and certain guarantees that the state was not comfortable providing to a site that we didn’t think would add a lot of capacity,” said Christ.

County administrator Chuck Huckleberry sent a note to Governor Ducey Monday stating they won’t need the state’s help and that the county can arrange for and handle the extra sites.

“The county is willing to step up and do all of the logistical stuff. So we’re on top of this, we’re ready to go,” said Heinz.

Heinz said the White House official is now looking into what their options are.

“The FEMA pods in Pima County address basically everything all of the things the federal government is trying to prioritize so I wanted to make sure that the highest level they knew this was happening,” said Heinz.

The board is set to vote on pursuing this Wednesday, in hopes of bringing more vaccine supply that is still needed in the county.

Huckleberry’s memo says the PODs could bring another 300,000 or more vaccines and that it will not deduct from the State vaccine allocation.

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