Arizona GOP Congress members request more COVID vaccines for state
PHOENIX — Arizona’s four Republican members of Congress sent a letter Friday to the Federal Emergency Management Agency asking for more coronavirus vaccines after a request by Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona’s top health official was denied.
The letter – signed by Debbie Lesko, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs and David Schweikert – supports the request made by Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ for an emergency infusion of 300,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses and an increase of 300,000 doses weekly from the state’s federal allotment.
The lawmakers in the letter said Arizona is home to a disproportionately large at-risk population, and health care facilities are ready to meet the demand but cannot access the vaccine needed.
Nearly 823,000 vaccines have been administered in Arizona as of the Friday daily update from the Arizona Department of Health Services, officially passing the number of infections (775,622) recorded in the state as of Friday.
“As fast as the state can get the vaccines, they are getting them into the arms of Arizonans,” Lesko said in an email statement. “I urge the Biden Administration to grant this request so that anyone who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine.”
Arizona’s total allocation was 1,195,000 on Monday, with 44% still unused. The state was down to 31% of its supply as of Friday. Arizona gets new vaccine shipments from the federal government each week.
The lawmakers’ request comes after Ducey on Wednesday morning made his letter to the state’s congressional delegation public, asking them to engage at every level to help secure additional vaccines.
“There could be no better use of your time or advocacy efforts than in helping to secure these additional vaccine doses for the people of Arizona to help end this pandemic for good,” Ducey said.
Rep. Greg Stanton, a Democrat, on Sunday announced he had also sent a letter to the White House seeking approval for an immediate allocation of 300,000 vaccine doses as well as 300,000 additional doses per week.
The Republican governor urged the state’s congressional delegation to place funding for vaccine distribution and allocation at the top of the list as Congress contemplates further COVID-19 relief measures.
Ducey in the letter said the state-run site at State Farm Stadium and a second state-run site that opened at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Monday are both operating below capacity due to the allocation of vaccines from federal partners.
Vaccine doses are the single biggest limiting factor to opening more appointments and creating new mass vaccination sites, according to Ducey, who said the state is looking to open several mass vaccination sites across Arizona along with smaller sites to target hard to reach populations.
“We are confident that such an allocation increase would allow the state to replicate our successful mass vaccination sites throughout the state,” Ducey said in the letter.