Gov. Ducey tours UA, defends state declining FEMA site in Pima County

Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 7:34 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Governor Doug Ducey toured the UArizona campus and vaccination site Wednesday. He also received his second vaccine. He said vaccination distribution across the state is “heading in the right direction,” even after he and ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ denied a federal FEMA site in Pima County.

Gov. Ducey was peppered with questions and pressured as to why the state declined to have a FEMA site in Pima County that would be able to vaccinate an additional 200,000 people. He said the state has its reasons.

“What we want to do is get the vaccine out. What we’ve asked for from the federal government is supply,” he said.

A letter addressed to Dr. Christ from the regional FEMA director, outlines the additional vaccine supply that would serve under-represented and under-served communities on the south-side. The state seems to feel that supply should head to them, instead of a FEMA site.

“They should deliver it to the state,” said Ducey.

Gov. Doug Ducey and Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ visited the state-run vaccination site at the University of Arizona.

State officials claim the resources that are needed for such a site would be too daunting, and they feel the state is already more than capable of flexing up to more vaccinations with the sites it has.

“There were many concerns on why they felt they couldn’t just give us the vaccine, but that they needed to set up an entire site already outside our state distribution,” said Dr. Christ.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors is asking the governor to reconsider denying the FEMA site.

In a news conference on Wednesday, KOLD News 13 asked the governor if he would reconsider. He replied with a curt, “yes,” before expanding, saying he would reconsider because the supervisors feel it is important. Whether that means the site will come to Pima County is really unknown, as no decision has been made.

FEMA also said it does not partner directly with counties, but would provide aid to a county if a state asked for it.

FEMA said the state’s reasoning for declining the site are simply not true.

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