TUCSON— Today, Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), and Greg Stanton (AZ-09) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor asking them to work together to facilitate a “massive testing blitz” in Arizona.
“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,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “Arizona is in the middle of a public health crisis and we urgently need a robust testing program to identify and then trace the virus in order to keep our communities safe.”
Yesterday, Arizona COVID-19 cases surpassed 100,000, and the state is now leading the nation in new daily cases per capita. A record number of COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, in the ICU, and on ventilators. Meanwhile, access to testing is dangerously limited, with Arizona in the bottom third of per capita testing nationally and with the highest positive test rate in the nation at 25 percent – three times the national average.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote. “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,” the letter says. “Your help to facilitate a testing blitz is needed at least until the state has scaled sufficient resources.”
The full letter can be found here.