Paul's Note - January 22, 2021

My office has been getting a lot of inquiries about when vaccines will be available. The short answer is that it has been changing daily. 

Watching the vaccine roll out has been frustrating. As reported by Arizona Public Media this week, we could be in for a shortage here in Pima County. The problem stems from a lack of federal planning and coordination with the states. My hope is that this will change given we have a new administration this week. 

At the City level, the best we can do is react and adapt to the changing circumstances. The City has the responsibility for running one of the five Points of Distribution (PODs) in Pima County. Three serve our more remote communities: Ajo, Marana and Green Valley. The City has been running the POD at the Tucson Convention Center. The second one in Tucson is at the University of Arizona. 

The TCC site is staffed by personnel from Tucson Medical Center, Pima County, Tucson Fire Department and other city employees re-deployed from other departments. Those re-deployed city employees include a member of my council staff, who started assisting this week. 

Our site was initially tasked with offering vaccinations to Protective Service Occupations: law enforcement, corrections, firefighters, and other emergency response staff, 911 call center staff and trainees in high-risk settings, employees in county courts/county attorney offices. Vaccinations started last Friday with a “soft opening” with 110 TFD, TPD and clinical staff getting vaccinated. Since then, they have been able to keep the site open for a 12 hour daily schedule and offer 1100 vaccines per day. 

Pima County and other agencies will be evaluating how to open registration up for other at-risk populations in the coming weeks. This will depend on a number of factors, including how much vaccine is available. I’ll do my best to keep you up to date. 

Keep in mind that even as the vaccine becomes more and more available, we all still need to take precautions. Just today, the Arizona Department of Health Services is reporting 858 new cases and 40 deaths in Pima County, and we are on track to reach half a million deaths nationwide by the end of the month. This isn’t the time to get careless. Limit your exposure, wear a mask and maintain social distancing. 

In addition to the health impacts, many of us have been wrestling with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis as well. 

My colleagues and I took swift action last year to distribute the $95.6 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to shore up City services and assist struggling Tucsonans through the We Are One/Somos Uno program. In an effort to create transparency, the City has created an easy-to-use website to illustrate how funding was distributed. This information includes a breakdown of how $51.6 million was allocated to directly support the community, including aid for small businesses, families, entertainment venues, and much more. The information on the site is updated regularly as additional information becomes available and new federal funding is received. 

The report is available at https://stories.opengov.com/tucsonaz/published/9XGqaJT0B