We believe that aggressive, immediate action is needed to address the COVID-19
outbreak in Arizona, and we write to request that FEMA and HHS work to facilitate a massive testing blitz in our state.
We have seen uncontained community spread and exponential growth of the virus in Arizona. Yesterday, our state passed the grim milestone of 100,000 positive cases. Although it took our state five months to record its first 50,000 cases, it took us approximately two weeks to record an additional 50,000 cases. Alarmingly, we are now leading the nation in new daily cases per capita and not by a close margin.
This has put severe pressure on our state’s health care resources. A record number of COVID-19 patients are in the hospital, in the ICU, and on ventilators. In response to only 9 percent ICU capacity remaining and some hospitals reaching 100% capacity, the state has authorized crisis standards of care.
Access to testing is dangerously limited and is not even close to meeting demand.
Arizona is in the bottom third of per capita testing nationally and has the highest positive test rate in the nation at 25 percent- which is three times the national average. Arizonans have reported waiting in line for up to 13 hours for a test and having to wait as long as three weeks to receive the results. There is no way our state will get a handle on the virus with such inadequate testing.
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. 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. Your help to facilitate a testing blitz is needed at least until the state has scaled sufficient resources.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response.