TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The biggest news for Pima County today was the state allowed it to accept help from FEMA. In doing so, the county will be able to set up a COVID-19 vaccination site without taking doses from the state.
But Arizona has its issues. In a letter addressed to FEMA by AZDHS Director Dr. Cara Christ, there have been concerns voiced by other states that host FEMA-operated vaccine sites, inlcuding:
● Long wait times.
● The state’s inability to maintain medical control.
● Poor treatment of state, local and healthcare partner staff by FEMA employees.
● Significant concerns about the impact on Arizona’s vaccine allocation, as other states with FEMA sites have indicated the allocation does NOT remain a federal allocation.
Additionally, Dr. Christ says she is concerned that Pima County does not possess the ability to adequately support a FEMA-run site “given their inability to financially sustain other COVID-19 related public health activities they have chosen to undertake, and have since billed the state for unapproved costs.”
Given this situation, she says the state will be requesting a written statement from Pima County assuring it and the federal government will be able to appropriately fund the activities required to run the federal vaccine site until reimbursement from FEMA is obtained.
In response, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry sent out the following statement:
“This afternoon I received a copy of the letter sent from Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that authorizes a FEMA-supported vaccination POD in Pima County. On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, I thank Gov. Ducey for his thoughtful reconsideration and allowing FEMA to vaccinate more than 210,000 county residents. The County Health Department will resume its planning with FEMA to begin administering these vaccines to County residents as soon as possible. I will be responding directly to Dr. Christ about her unfounded reservations and unwarranted criticisms expressed in her letter. Pima County has been operating multiple vaccination PODs since December without incident and with little to no state assistance.”
The full letter directed to FEMA by Dr. Christ may be viewed bellow.