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State rejects FEMA offer to set up federally run vaccine sites in Pima County

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The decision came late last week from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

It rejected an offer from FEMA to stand-up two federally run vaccine pods in predominantly Latino areas of Pima County. One proposed site included the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center on the south side. 

"It still requires significant state resources and certain guarantees," Dr. Cara Christ, the state health director said Friday. "The state was not comfortable providing for a site that we didn't think would add a lot of capacity beyond what we had."

It is a move that leaves Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry perplexed.

"We have the capacity and the ability to provide those resources without stressing state resources at all," Huckelberry said. "I couldn't quite believe we were turning down an option that allowed us to greatly accelerate community vaccination."

Pima County Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz very much wants the FEMA run sites, they would be in his district. 

"The fact that we would be forgoing a quarter of a million vaccines, above and beyond what the state is normally going to be allocated because it's coming from the federal side of things," Heinz said. "That says that the state doesn't seem to be acting in good faith here."

Heinz wants the county to bypass the state.

"We want the vaccines and if FEMA wants to set up the pods, the county stands ready to help," he said.

Heinz said he reached out to the White House on this.

News 4 Tucson has learned the Pima County Board of Supervisors will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss whether to directly ask FEMA to build the vaccination site.

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Eric Fink

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