TUCSON— Today, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) announced the immediate allocation of an initial $100 million in federal funding intended for staffing, laboratory testing, informatics, disease surveillance, and other activities critical to combating COVID-19. Arizona received $418,951,131 as part of the $19 billion allocated to jurisdictions through the existing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) cooperative agreement. The money comes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed by Congress in December.
“I applaud the release of these funds to the counties to support our crucial operations in the fight against COVID-19,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “I have consistently advocated and voted to get federal resources to our communities, and the delays and attempts to withhold this support at the state level are incredibly frustrating. Congress passed this funding with a very clear intent, and frankly we need the state to be a better partner in getting these resources out in a timely and fair manner. I appreciate the technical assistance available from the CDC to help ensure these funds are used efficiently, and I call on the state to continue releasing these funds to ensure our communities have access to testing and the needed resources available to help keep the people of Southern Arizona safe.”
The funding comes as Pima County announced it would have to close testing sites after the state had not allocated any of the federal funds for their operations. Rep. Grijalva had been calling on the state to release the funds since they were announced on January 8th. Pima County predicts that the funds will only allow them to operate through March 2, 2021.
“The ongoing response to the pandemic will continue to require robust support of testing even as we scale up vaccination efforts across Pima County. Especially as we try to understand the potential impact of COVID variants, this is not the time for the state to retreat on testing efforts,” said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero has also requested funding from the State of Arizona that was provided by Congress to help cover testing and vaccination costs and has yet to receive a response. The City of Tucson may not be able to cover the costs of testing by the end of this month for its support of the Udall Recreation Center and testing operations at the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center without support from the state.
“Counties and cities that are on the frontlines of providing testing and protecting public health deserve our fair share from the state,” said Mayor Romero. “This is a positive step, however additional support will be needed to sustain current testing efforts.”