PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey urged all Arizonans on Wednesday "to please get the (COVID-19) vaccine when it's available to you."
"We need Arizonans to step up and get the vaccine if we want to stop the spread of this virus. It's our best shot at returning to normalcy," he said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, which is home to one of the state's vaccine distribution sites.
Watch our full coverage of the press briefing in the player below.
Gov. Ducey also repeatedly stressed that the primary cause of the increase in positive COVID-19 cases in the state was due to large at-home gatherings. Ahead of the holidays, he urged Arizonans to limit their gatherings and travel, to host gatherings outside as much as possible, or to connect with loved ones virtually.
"I can’t overemphasize this enough. The fight against this pandemic is not over. Far from it," he said. "I need Arizonans to continue to do their part in slowing the spread of this virus. This means, of course, following public health guidelines, wearing a mask, washing your hands, physically distancing yourself, and to limit your time with the most vulnerable."
To date, there have been 429,219 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona and 7,530 deaths, according to ADHS’ online data dashboard. There has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
Hospitals around the state have reported an increase in COVID-19 patients and of in-use ICU beds, as well as a shortage of nurses to staff those beds.
At the press conference, Gov. Ducey also announced 10 people who would be among the first to get the vaccine on Wednesday evening at a vaccine point of distribution in Phoenix. That includes nurses, doctors, firefighters, and a member of the Arizona National Guard. It also included Dr. Cara Christ, the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services and someone who has been the face of the state's mitigation efforts.
"I’m going to get the vaccine when it’s my turn," Gov. Ducey said, noting that he was not part of the first category determined to get the vaccine. "When it’s my turn, my sleeve will be rolled up and it will be administered."
Gov. Ducey also announced that vaccine distribution sites were expected to be set-up and available in all 15 counties within the next week. He said vaccines would begin to be administered to nursing facilities by the end of the month.
He also announced that an additional $15 million would be allocated to ADHS' emergency fund.
Gov. Ducey's Wednesday visit to the point of distribution comes two days after the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Maricopa County.
Since its arrival, frontline workers and veterans have been among the first Arizonans to receive the vaccine.
A potential plan for the phased distribution of the vaccine in the Valley has been released by Maricopa County health officials, with the general population set to receive it beginning in Spring 2021.