PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona pressed on Monday with plans to increase vaccinations and vaccine access, including the opening of its fourth state-run mass vaccination clinic.
The state Department of Health Services announced it will transition a Maricopa County vaccination clinic at Chandler-Gilbert Community College into a state site.
The location was due to close at the end of this month once Dignity Health stopped operating it. Instead, it will reopen March 3 as another mass vaccination venue. It will run 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the goal of becoming an around-the-clock operation. Like the other state sites, it will offer the Pfizer vaccine. Appointment registration will open March 1.
Meanwhile, Gov. Doug Ducey announced people enrolled in Arizona’s Medicaid program will have transportation costs to and from vaccination appointments covered. Starting Monday, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System will reimburse charges from the use of non-emergency medical transportation providers.
Ducey hailed Arizona as the first state to establish such an arrangement.
“This change will make it easier for our most vulnerable Arizonans, individuals with disabilities and those with chronic and long-term care needs, to get vaccinated," Ducey said in a statement.
The efforts to speed up vaccinating Arizonans comes as health officials report 1,507 new COVID-19 cases but no additional deaths.
The latest numbers released Monday increased the state’s pandemic totals to 809,474 cases and 15,502 known deaths. The death toll also went down by three as a result of finding duplicate records.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Hospitalizations continue to slide downward. As of Sunday, 1,590 people were hospitalized statewide for COVID-19. Of those patients, 478 were using ICU beds.
Like most states, Arizona has suffered through two waves of the coronavirus virus with the first one starting in mid-May.
Health officials said it took eight weeks for cases to start declining back then, and 16 weeks into the second wave to see new cases start to decrease.
In other developments:
—The University of Arizona entered the next phase of its camps reentry plan Monday by allowing classes of 50 students or fewer to meet in person. University officials say the decision was made based on the decline of cases in the community and a positivity rate of just 0.14%. Out of 12,860 COVID-19 tests administered last week by the school, 18 came back positive.
Since the start of the school year, learning has been virtual with the exception of essential lab courses and some fine arts classes.