The behind the scenes lobbying effort to get a FEMA mass vaccination site in the Central Valley hasn’t garnered fruit, at least not yet.
California quickly received two of the federally supported sites in Oakland and Los Angeles last month. Gov. Gavin Newsom, visiting a vaccination site in Earlimart this week, said interstate rivalry may be preventing the state from getting another site.
“Other states, I’ll be honest with you, were a little upset that California was the first to get not one — but two large scale vaccination sites,” said Newsom. “Until the other states start to get more equitably their vaccination sites, we’re struggling to get that third site here in the Valley.”
Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, has a spot in mind for it. He told GV Wire℠ in early February that the large parking lot at Fresno State’s Save Mart Center makes it a viable location for bringing in large numbers of people for COVID-19 vaccinations. Costa believes the site and two mobile units could ultimately administer a total of 7,000 vaccines daily.
During a Wednesday online news conference, Costa says he has had another conversation with the White House about activating a Central Valley site.
“Fresno County is a county of a million people, and we have neighboring counties that need additional support as well,” said Costa. “So this FEMA site would benefit multiple counties in the area.”
“Fresno County is a county of a million people, and we have neighboring counties that need additional support as well. So this FEMA site would benefit multiple counties in the area.”–Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno
Costa says he’s also spoken with Vice President Kamala Harris and believes the Valley will ultimately be receive one. “Hopefully sooner rather than later,” says Costa.
80% Vaccination Goal For Valley
Costa says he wants to see 80% of Valley residents vaccinated by the end of May.
“We need the additional capacity that a FEMA site would provide, and we’re working on it,” he said.
FEMA in Other States
On March 3, FEMA announced the following sites had just opened:
- Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Florida.
- Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Yonkers, New York.
FEMA has now deployed 1,992 staff across the nation to support the vaccination effort. Department of Defense vaccine support teams are in California, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Additional teams are scheduled to arrive in Florida, Pennsylvania and the U.S. Virgin Islands this week.
“Other states, I’ll be honest with you, were a little upset that California was the first to get not one — but two large scale vaccination sites.”–Governor Gavin Newsom
Is It Getting Too Late for a Central Valley Site To Help?
GV Wire℠ asked Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra if it’s getting to be too late for a FEMA site to come online. Just this week, Fresno County received its highest allocation of vaccine doses to date.
“We’re not ready to give up yet,” said Vohra. “I think it will still definitely help.”
Vohra says even with this week’s higher allotment, based on county calculations related to how many vaccines per week they need to deliver, that goal has not yet been met.
“Whatever resource, whether that’s a FEMA site or just just a bunch of vaccines that that we need to allocate to other sites, we will take them because we know we haven’t met (our) goal yet,” said Vohra.
Fresno County Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado is engineering the county’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. He believes the Valley is primed for a FEMA site.
“Whether it comes next month, or two months later, regardless of when it arrives, that’s going to be additional doses, additional people getting vaccinated in the Central Valley,” said Prado.