WASHINGTON, DC — During a news conference Wednesday by the White House coronavirus task force it was revealed that a request for a COVID-19 surge testing site in west Phoenix is being processed.
U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir said that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey looked at the latest data Wednesday morning and thought a surge site in west Phoenix would be helpful.
He added that if there’s an appropriate request and it’s on the list for Dr. Debroah Birx then the federal government will send a surge site. He says Governor Ducey's request is "being contracted" right now.
The announcement comes after Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego went on ABC's This Week on Sunday and told Martha Raddatz that she requested community-based testing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was told "we're moving away from that."
Mayor Gallego said it felt like FEMA was declaring victory while "we're still in crisis mode."
Admiral Giroir said that after hearing on Sunday that Mayor Gallego was "unhappy [because] there was no federal support," he got on the phone with FEMA on Monday and said it was clear to him that Phoenix was "not in tune with all the things the state was doing."
Giroir said he convened on the phone with the governor's people, the mayor's people and various health officials to understand where the gaps are. He added that there's a surge in testing from Arizona State and a surge in test sites around Phoenix.
There's three federally funded retail sites in Phoenix, added Giroir, and 13 retail pharmacies conducting testing through insurance programs for a total of 16 testing sites. He said there's 28 federally qualified health centers in the Phoenix-area with testing machines that can conduct tens-of-thousands of tests a day and hundreds-of-thousands of tests a week.
Giroir said it pains him when somebody says the federal government isn't doing anything "when we have 41 federal sites there. We're sending supplies, we're sending tests and we work with the governor every day."
Vice President Mike Pence said during Wednesday's briefing that over 1,000 doctors and medical personnel are being deployed to areas dealing with increased coronvairus cases. He said FEMA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services are working to get help to those states in need including Arizona, California, Texas and Florida.