Biden, Harris virtually visit Arizona vaccination site

The president and vice president gave kudos to ASU's efforts in collaboration with the state of Arizona

woman talking to President Biden and VP Harris during virtual meeting

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2021 year in review.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris virtually toured the State Farm Stadium vaccination site on Feb. 8, praising Arizona State University’s efforts to assist the state vaccination drive.

Dr. Cara Christ, state director of the Department of Health Services, led the tour, explaining that ASU’s previous work on drive-thru, saliva-based, free COVID-19 testing at the stadium made a smooth transition into vaccinations possible. The coordination between ASU and the state of Arizona is being hailed as a national model on how local communities can partner with the federal government. 

"We actually had a testing site on-site here with ASU as well as the Arizona Cardinals, so we had some of the infrastructure and the plans in place to then build into a vaccination site,” Christ said. “It was the perfect partnership."

The stadium site opened Jan. 11. About 160,000 doses, both first and second shots, have since been administered around the clock, seven days a week. The site now averages about 8,000 shots per day, Christ said.

Britteny Hayes, lead clinical supervisor at the site, explained logistics to the president and vice president. Hayes is the charge nurse for COVID-19 testing with the ASU Research Enterprise. She has worked to develop clinical operations for vaccinations.

Hayes told the president and vice president that one person is vaccinated every 10 seconds at the site. "We are giving people hope,” Hayes said. “Feeling united, because it's been a long year and I'm hoping we can give that unity back.”

"We are really proud of you,” Biden said after her presentation. “What do you hear from the folks coming through that get the vaccine?”

"They are amazed by the process,” Hayes said. “I hear that a lot. … The smoothness. A dose of hope is what I've been calling it." 

Twenty-five FEMA personnel work at the site. Three hundred federal personnel are deployed in Arizona, including 100 vaccinators from Health and Human Services who arrived last weekend. 

Biden asked what the federal government can do to help. 

"The collaboration with FEMA — everyone we have partnered with here, I get nothing but the utmost of support,” Hayes said. “If I need something, it’s done. And it's been amazing to collaborate with everybody."

“Thank you for what you are doing,” Biden told Hayes. “It really matters. … You are saving people's lives."

Biden said his administration is on track to pass 100 million vaccinations in its first 100 days.

"You are a role model of how this kind of approach can work,” Harris said. “And thank you for that, because it's not easy being a role model and being one of the first. But that being said, you're a leader really in the country around what you’re experiencing right now and how that can help others that start to pop up and we intend on doing this around in many places around the country." 

Biden spoke with National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell over the weekend. Because of Arizona’s success, the NFL is now offering up all stadiums around the country to be used for vaccination sites.

Top photo: Registered nurse Britteny Hayes, with ASU, speaks about coordinating the personnel logistics of Arizona's vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale during a virtual tour with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.

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