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Arizona urged to get more vaccines into Latino neighborhoods

(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — A woman who became a national figure after her father died of COVID-19 has teamed up with an Arizona congressman to urge increased efforts to bring more vaccine doses into Phoenix’s Latino neighborhoods.

Kristin Urquiza joined Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego at a vaccine information stand in a south Phoenix shopping center on Friday to underscore the need to bring more doses into heavily Latino areas that the congressman represents, like south and west Phoenix. Gallego said he is helping organize vaccination events in Latino neighborhoods, including one May 15 at a west Phoenix high school.

“Our neighborhoods have some of the lowest vaccination rates in Arizona,” he said.

Urquiza wrote a searing obituary last summer after the death of her 65-year-old father, Mark Anthony Urquiza, blaming it on then-President Donald Trump and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and policies she said didn’t go far enough to protect people. She founded a group called Marked by COVID and described the loss of her father on the first night of last year’s Democratic National Convention.

“We need to get more of these resources into our neighborhoods,” she said, encouraging governments at all levels to do more. “There is no such thing as a trickledown equity that works.”

Her and Gallego’s call for more vaccination events targeting Latinos came as Arizona health officials announced that over 3 million people — nearly 42% of the state’s population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Of those, over 2.4 million people — 36% of the state’s population — are fully vaccinated, according to Arizona’s coronavirus dashboard.

The latest vaccination numbers posted Friday on the health agency’s website said 1.4 million white people had received at least one shot, but only about 390,000 people who self-identified as Latino or Hispanic had.

Over 900,000 others who received at least one shot were categorized as “unknown” ethnicity or “other race.” Far smaller numbers of Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Black people in Arizona had received at least one jab.

The south Phoenix neighborhood where the nonprofit group UnidosUS had set up the vaccine information stand has reported 15,293 vaccinations, according to data collected by ZIP code. About 56% of residents in that 85042 ZIP code are Latino, and 21% are white.

In the wealthier Scottsdale ZIP code 85255, home to a population that trends older and is 87% white and 5% Latino, 28,980 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

Nationally, 45% of the population has received at least one dose and 32.8% is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arizona health officials on Friday reported 820 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths, increasing the pandemic totals to 867,44 cases and 17,391 deaths.

The state’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks, going from 675 on April 21 to 710 on Wednesday, while the rolling average of daily deaths dropped from about 17 to nine during the same period, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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