State Farm Stadium Glendale, AZ February 8 2:38 P.M. EST
Good afternoon, Mr. President and Madam Vice President. On your second day in office, you announced a comprehensive national strategy to fight the pandemic. Importantly, you called for a whole-of-government approach. Central to that strategy, you directed your team to activate the full resources of the federal government to get more shots in arms. We immediately got to work. First, to increase vaccine supply. Second, to get more vaccinators in the field. And third, to create more places where Americans can get vaccinated.
We're putting equity front and center, partnering with states to increase vaccinations in the hardest-hit and hard-to- reach communities. We're building new community vaccination centers from the ground up — in stadiums, community centers, parking lots, and mobile units — in states ranging from California, to Ohio, to New York.
And we've expedited financial support to increase capacity at existing community vaccination centers nationwide, with over $2.2 billion in funding across 32 states, tribes, and territories.
Today, we want to show you what it looks like on the ground, in Glendale, Arizona. We're going to do a tour of State Farm Stadium, which started giving its first shots on January 11.
The State of Arizona is one of the first states to reach out to ask for federal help from your administration. On January 21st, we decided to deploy 25 FEMA staff, including logistics staff, traffic managers and runners, and administrative support — helping enable the site to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And we're funding the Arizona National Guard onsite at zero cost to the state.
Since opening, the site has administered over 160,000 doses, now averaging 8,000 vaccinations a day. This stadium is a model for other communities across the country on how they can operate in partnership with the federal government to vaccinate more people.
Our support to the state goes beyond State Farm Stadium. We've deployed almost 300 federal personnel from FEMA and three other federal partners to support vaccination operations across the state. That includes over 100 vaccinators from HHS that we sent just this weekend.
At the request of state and local leaders across the country, we've made the cost to build these sites fully reimbursable through FEMA. Just yesterday, FEMA awarded $20 million to the state of Arizona to support the COVID-19 response, including vaccination operations. These funds can help support building new community vaccination centers just like this one.
Here's a look at the site you're going to see today. There's a great team on the ground who's going to walk you through it.
So now let me introduce you to Dr. Christ, the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Dr. Christ, over to you.
Good afternoon, and we are so honored to have you here at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. I want to take you into the command tent, where we manage the day-to-day operations of the state's only 24/7 state-operated vaccination site. So come on in.
So, State Farm Stadium is the first 24/7 vaccination site in Arizona. We have a dashboard that we monitor all of our data that we look at. And so we are averaging between 8,000 and 9,000 vaccines per day; that currently is both first and second doses. It's about 350 to 400 vaccines per hour. And like was said, we've vaccinated almost 170,000 times out here at State Farm Stadium. This one site is responsible for over 18 percent of all of the vaccines delivered in Arizona since we started. Our full capacity, though, here is 12,000 vaccines per day.
Let me take you over to the sitemap. So we have an electronic registration system that people can either log in online and sign up, or they can call a call center if they're not comfortable working on the web. But they will come in, they will have an appointment, they will get checked in, and we will make sure that they are registered at the data verification. It's all done electronically.
They will come around to our vaccination tents where they receive their vaccine, and then are asked to stay on for about 15 to 30 minutes.
This is all done in the comfort of their own car, which is really important, potentially, as we head into the warmer months here in Arizona, and it allows for our vulnerable residents to stay socially distanced.
During their 15 to 30 minutes that they are spending with us to make sure that they're safe, we are registering them for their second-dose appointment, as well as getting them their vaccine card.
We also have a really strong partner in Walgreens. They are set up, and they manage a 24/7 pharmacy onsite in State Farm Stadium.
And the main goal of this site was to really accelerate getting vaccine into the arms of Arizonans. This has accelerated our efforts here in Arizona. And we weren't sure what a 24/7 site would look like. We weren't sure that we would have the demand that we — that we needed. However, our sites and appointments book up very quickly, and our flow through the night is just the same as it is during the day. So we're running about 350 to 400 people through per hour.
What that has helped with is our — the 24/7 nature of this operation allows us to ensure that no dose expires or goes unused. So we've also got plans with our other pods in the valley that they can transfer a vaccine to us to make sure that they're not going to expire doses as well.
We are still in our Phase 1A and prioritized 1B populations here in Arizona, and there's an eligibility whether you call in or you sign up here. But we're still doing healthcare workers, long-term care residents, protective services, our educators and childcare, as well as adults over the age of 65.
One of the other things that we've found really helps us keep up with our vaccine supply is to offer plus-ones. So that is a clinical decision that is offered to somebody else who may have accompanied that individual in the car, whether it's a caretaker, a family member. We're trying to get as many vaccines into the arms of Arizonans, so we want to make sure that all of those around some of our vulnerable residents are protected.
The other thing: We have a very large influx of winter visitors and migrant agricultural workers to Arizona this time of year. So Arizona has made the decision not to restrict vaccination to residents. You can be from anywhere in the United States, and we will still vaccinate you if you are able to get a partnership.
And the final thing I want to touch on is: This could not have been possible without the partnerships from FEMA, from our state emergency management, but also the private-public partnerships that we've established. Without the Arizona Cardinals, Walgreens, Arizona State University, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, we wouldn't be able to function as effectively as we have.
And this site was developed to be replicable, so we can scale it up and we can send it to other sites. In fact, last week, we just opened our second state-operated site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. We're running about 2,000 to 3,000, but it has the same capacity as State Farm Stadium does, at 12,000.
And in the next couple of weeks, we will be opening up our third pod down in Pima County, which is Tucson, our second most populous county here in Arizona.
I'm happy to take any questions that you may have.
Doctor, let me ask you — this is Joe Biden. Let me ask you a question. Were you able to do this — would you be able to do this without federal help? The reason I ask it is, a lot of states originally said, "We're fine. We don't need any help. We'll — just get us the vaccine, and we'll be fine." Talk to me practically about what it took to get it to this stage.
So, without the federal funding and without the federal partnership, this would be a huge logistical lift. And so, the fact that we've got such great partnership with our federal partners — whether it's FEMA, whether it's HHS — that has been just — that's been the crux.
And so, without that funding and the vaccine and the vaccinators that have come out here, along with all of the logistical support that we've gotten — it's a huge lift to put something like this together.
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