TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Pima County has been authorized to work independently with FEMA, clearing the way for a new COVID-19 vaccine site.
In a press conference Friday, Dr. Cara Christ said a letter was sent to FEMA notifying them that AZDHS is delegating authority to the county.
Christ said the state will not support or oversee the operations. It’s entirely up to Pima County to provide any needed resources.
"Pima County has provided their assurances that they will be able to support these sites. We're hoping it will not have any impact on any currently operating sites," she said.
Earlier this month, the state rejected FEMA’s offer to bring at least 240,000 vaccine doses to Pima County.
We reached out to Pima County Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz, who responded, "It's much faster and better overall if we can have this direct relationship between the county and FEMA like this."
The county pulled out all stops to get FEMA to set up vaccine pods at two sites in at-risk minority communities -- El Pueblo Community Center and the Kino Event Center.
During an emergency board meeting on Wednesday, the board voted on a resolution requesting help from Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA, and Arizona's Congressional Delegation to make that happen.
Dr. Christ answered KGUN'S question on whether that played a role in the reversal.
She responded, "I did not hear from the White House. I specifically didn't hear from Arizona congressional delegation either. So that didn't play a role, it was more of FEMA's assuring us that the vaccines would not come from the state's allocation. And Pima County's reassurances that they could support this without the state having to reallocated resources."
But the reversal comes with conditions and concerns.
In a letter to FEMA, Dr. Christ writes the state is skeptical of the county's ability to provide needed resources and personnel.
She said if the county cannot ensure the state-run site at the U-of-A will be impacted, then the state would pull back its authorization.
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told KGUN he'll respond directly to Dr. Christ that the county has run multiple sites without incident or state help.
He said the county will resume its planning with FEMA and begin giving out doses as soon as possible.
Watch the full press conference below: