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Arizona governor says no beef over rejected fed vaccine site

March 24, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — There is no turf war after Arizona rejected a proposed federal government-supported COVID-19 vaccine site, Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday.

He and Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s top health official, said working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on setting up a community vaccine center in Pima County would not be as efficient as simply allocating more doses to the state.

“What the federal government tells us is they are capable of distributing from this potential site is 6,000 doses. What we are capable of at the state level is 60,000,” Ducey said. “Our objective is to get the vaccine out faster and to more Arizonans.”

The decision has drawn criticism from Pima County, where officials voted unanimously for the federal site. The conflict somewhat overshadowed Ducey’s touting of vaccine expansions Wednesday at the University of Arizona state-run site in Tucson, where the Republican governor got his second dose.

Ducey, however, said he would revisit the issue since Pima County officials felt so strongly.

Christ, director of the state Department of Health Services, said the state would have had to share a “huge list” of resources even though it would have been a federal site. They include a temperature-appropriate chain of storage, a registration system and significant personnel.

“We already have a lot of that infrastructure,” Christ said.

Arizona on Wednesday reported 605 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 44 more deaths as eligibility for appointments at state-run vaccination sites was expanded to everyone 16 and older.

The latest figures increased Arizona’s pandemic totals to 837,849 cases and 16,842 deaths and COVID-19-related hospitalizations as of Tuesday remained at roughly 650 for the third straight day, according to the state.

The Department of Health Services announced on Twitter that all newly available online appointments for this week at state-run sites in metro Phoenix and Tucson were snapped up within 20 minutes.

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State officials had cited softening demand and increased supply when they announced on Monday the planned expansion of eligibility for appointments at state-run vaccination sites.

The state’s minimum age eligibility had been 55.

The department said it expects to make 80,000 first-dose appointments available at 11 a.m. Friday for next week at the state-run sites, including a newly converted one in Yuma. The state will also continue to work with Yuma County to reach Spanish-speakers, including migrant workers, Christ said.

Seven-daily rolling averages of daily new cases dropped from 1,304 on March 8 to 489 on Monday and the daily deaths rolling average dropped from 45 to 32 during the same period, according to Johns Hopkins University data.