Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Dems in AZ Congressional Delegation: FEMA Needs To Launch AZ Coronavirus Testing Blitz

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 11:25 AM

click to enlarge Congressman Raúl Grijalva:“There’s no sugar-coating it: The response to COVID-19 in Arizona has been a failure on the part of the state and the White House, and nowhere is that more evident than in testing capacity."
  • Congressman Raúl Grijalva:“There’s no sugar-coating it: The response to COVID-19 in Arizona has been a failure on the part of the state and the White House, and nowhere is that more evident than in testing capacity."
The five Democrats in Arizona's congressional delegation—U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva, Tom O'Halleran, Ann Kirkpatrick, Greg Stanton and Ruben Gallego—have asked FEMA to bring expanded testing to Arizona as COVID-19 cases continue their uncontrolled spread.

In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor, the members of Congress requested a “massive testing blitz” in Arizona.

"Access to testing is dangerously limited and is not even close to meeting demand," the lawmakers wrote. "Arizona is in the bottom third of per capita testing nationally and has the highest positive test rate in the nation at 25 percent- which is three times the national average. Arizonans have reported waiting in line for up to 13 hours for a test and having to wait as long as three weeks to receive the results. There is no way our state will get a handle on the virus with such inadequate testing."

The lawmakers note the outbreak's spread in Arizona is accelerating and putting major pressure on the healthcare system.

"We have seen uncontained community spread and exponential growth of the virus in Arizona," they wrote. "Yesterday, our state passed the grim milestone of 100,000 positive cases. Although it took our state five months to record its first 50,000 cases, it took us approximately two weeks to record an additional 50,000 cases. Alarmingly, we are now leading the nation in new daily cases per capita and not by a close margin. This has put severe pressure on our state’s health care resources. A record number of COVID-19 patients are in the hospital, in the ICU, and on ventilators. In response to only 9 percent ICU capacity remaining and some hospitals reaching 100% capacity, the state has authorized crisis standards of care."

Grijalva said in a prepared statement that the state needs "a robust testing program to identify and then trace the virus in order to keep our communities safe.”

“There’s no sugar-coating it: The response to COVID-19 in Arizona has been a failure on the part of the state and the White House, and nowhere is that more evident than in testing capacity,” Grijalva said.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona climbed reached 108,000 as of Wednesday, July 8, after the state reported 3,520 new cases this morning, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had 10,485 of the state's 108,614 confirmed cases.

A total of 1,963 people have died after contracting the virus.

Maricopa County has nearly two-thirds of the state's cases, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases hitting 70,128.

Hospitals remain under pressure. The report shows that a record number of 3,421 COVID patients were hospitalized yesterday in the state, more than triple the 1,009 hospitalized on June 1.

A record number of 2,008 people visited ERs with coronavirus symptoms yesterday, while a record number of 871 COVID-19 patients were in ICU beds.

The full text of the letter after the jump.


We believe that aggressive, immediate action is needed to address the COVID-19
outbreak in Arizona, and we write to request that FEMA and HHS work to facilitate a massive testing blitz in our state.

We have seen uncontained community spread and exponential growth of the virus in Arizona. Yesterday, our state passed the grim milestone of 100,000 positive cases. Although it took our state five months to record its first 50,000 cases, it took us approximately two weeks to record an additional 50,000 cases. Alarmingly, we are now leading the nation in new daily cases per capita and not by a close margin.

This has put severe pressure on our state’s health care resources. A record number of COVID-19 patients are in the hospital, in the ICU, and on ventilators. In response to only 9 percent ICU capacity remaining and some hospitals reaching 100% capacity, the state has authorized crisis standards of care.

Access to testing is dangerously limited and is not even close to meeting demand.

Arizona is in the bottom third of per capita testing nationally and has the highest positive test rate in the nation at 25 percent- which is three times the national average. Arizonans have reported waiting in line for up to 13 hours for a test and having to wait as long as three weeks to receive the results. There is no way our state will get a handle on the virus with such inadequate testing.

Given that the state is so far behind the testing capacity needed to adequately respond to this crisis, Arizona needs the federal government’s immediate assistance. We urge you to establish FEMA managed community-based testing sites in Arizona, particularly in hot spots and underserved areas. It is our understanding that FEMA has reduced its community-based testing site footprint in other parts of the country, and we ask that you redeploy those resources to our  state. Your help to facilitate a testing blitz is needed at least until the state has scaled sufficient resources.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Popular Content

© 2020 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation