TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Twelve days ago, Pima County won the right to open a FEMA vaccination site on the south-side of Tucson, in the heart of the hard-to-reach communities.
But after 12 days, there are no sites to be found and no word on when they might be coming.
“We had hoped to get that underway by about April 10th,” said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “But that is obviously not going to happen, so our new target date is April 17th.”
But that date is just as arbitrary as the first date. There’s no guarantee when it might open.
The State of Arizona and FEMA have to work out the details and that may be taking longer than expected.
The state has the final say on whether the county can work directly with the feds on the site. After initially denying the request, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey reversed himself and let the county and FEMA work out a deal.
But apparently, the deal has not been reached.
FEMA would not give a specific date on when it might reach an agreement, but an email to KOLD News 13 said it is still moving forward.
“FEMA is working with Pima County and the Arizona Division of Emergency Management to plan for county led, federally supported vaccination centers. Our goal is to work with Pima County and the state to expand vaccination options available to county residents and reach individuals who have struggled to access a vaccination site. All eligible Arizona residents who are not yet vaccinated should visit the state’s find vaccines webpage or call 844-542-8201.”
If and when the site is up and running, it will provide up to 6,000 vaccines a day for eight weeks, enough to vaccinate 210,000 people.
“What I know as of the past hour, is that it is still in the process of going forward,” said District 2 Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz. “It’s a little slower than a lot of us in county government were hoping for, but it’s still happening to the best of our knowledge.”
The sites chosen for the federal POD (points of distribution) will be the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, the Events Center at Kino Sports Park and potentially Desert Diamond casino.
All of the target areas for vaccine distribution, described as hard to reach areas where people have been reluctant to get vaccinated, don’t have the tools or transportation to get to the existing sites; or are essential workers who don’t have the time or resources to make an appointment.