Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Gov. Doug Ducey praised the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona at a news conference Wednesday as the substantial spread of the virus rages through the state.
Ducey said 10 healthcare workers, including the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services Dr. Cara Christ, will be the first people in Arizona to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine later today.
In Pima County, healthcare workers will be able to receive the vaccine at Tucson Medical Center and Banner University Medical Center Thursday.
Vaccine implementation will be phased out with healthcare workers, residents in long-term care facilities and the most vulnerable to COVID-19 receiving the first doses.
The governor said citizens should trust the vaccine the same way the esteemed medical professionals who will be first to take it do.
“[Christ’s] confidence in the vaccine should give all of us confidence in the vaccine,” Ducey said.
According to Ducey, he won’t “skip the line” and will only take the vaccine when the group he falls under in Arizona’s vaccine implementation plan is cleared to do so.
“But when it's my turn, my sleeve will be rolled up and it will be administered,” he said.
Christ shared alarming metrics at the press conference, such as a growing 18% positivity rating of coronavirus for the week of Dec. 6 and 429,219 total cases reported to date in Arizona. COVID-like illness is also increasing, and hospitals are overwhelmed with patients.
In response, the governor announced a disbursement of $15 million to the Department of Health Services to “replenish” the state’s emergency fund and purchase more resources to combat the virus, the governor said.
Although COVID-19 cases are surging and hospitals are inundated with coronavirus patients, Ducey doesn’t plan on creating further statewide mitigation to slow the spread despite many appeals from public health officials to do so.
Instead, he praised the guidelines the state put forth during the July surge in cases that reduced capacity at restaurants hospitals and gyms. Ducey asserted most of the spread is resulting from private gatherings.
“I'm not ignoring anyone, I'm listening to everyone. I'm taking the best counsel and advice and putting those steps forward, and that's what we're going to continue to do in what’s right for Arizona,” he said. “There are steps in place and if many of these leaders that are reaching out and asking for additional actions would actually enforce and have accountability around the steps that are already there, we can further reduce the spread of this and save lives.”
According to Ducey, in less than a week, every county in Arizona will have vaccine sites, but this doesn’t signify an end to following safety mitigation guidelines, especially as the holiday season approaches.
“We want to make sure that people are connecting with their families during the holiday season, and the most important thing is that we do it in a safe way,” Ducey said. “We have to keep our guard up. We have to remain vigilant at this time. So please limit the size of the gatherings, celebrate outdoors in any instance which you can.”
As COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, Ducey asked the public to continue following safety protocol as the vaccine is administered.
“I can't overemphasize this enough, the fight against this pandemic is not over, far from it. I need Arizonans is to continue to do their part in slowing the spread of this virus,” he said. “This means of course, following public health guidelines, wearing a mask, washing your hands, physically distancing yourself and limit your time with the most vulnerable.
"And today we have another ask: to please get the vaccine when it's available to you.”