Joe Biden

Remarks During a Virtual Tour of the State Farm Stadium Vaccination Site in Glendale, Arizona

February 08, 2021

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey D. Zients. Good afternoon, Mr. President and Madam Vice President. On your second day in office, you announced a comprehensive national strategy to fight the pandemic. Importantly, you called for a whole-of-Government approach. Central to that strategy, you directed your team to activate the full resources of the Federal Government to get more shots in arms. We immediately got to work. First, to increase vaccine supply. Second, to get more vaccinators in the field. And third, to create more places where Americans can get vaccinated.

[At this point, Coordinator Zients continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So now let me introduce you to Dr. Christ, the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Dr. Christ, over to you.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara M. Christ. Good afternoon, and we are so honored to have you here at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. I want to take you into the command tent, where we manage the day-to-day operations of the State's only 24/7 State-operated vaccination site. So come on in.

[Director Christ continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

And in the next couple of weeks, we will be opening up our third pod down in Pima County, which is Tucson, our second most populous county here in Arizona.

I'm happy to take any questions that you may have.

The President. Doctor, let me ask you—this is Joe Biden. Let me ask you a question. Were you able to do this—would you be able to do this without Federal help? The reason I ask it is, a lot of States originally said: "We're fine. We don't need any help. We'll—just get us the vaccine, and we'll be fine." Talk to me practically about what it took to get it to this stage.

Director Christ. So, without the Federal funding and without the Federal partnership, this would be a huge logistical lift. And so, the fact that we've got such great partnership with our Federal partners—whether it's FEMA, whether it's HHS—that has been just—that's been the crux.

And so, without that funding and the vaccine and the vaccinators that have come out here, along with all of the logistical support that we've gotten—it's a huge lift to put something like this together.

The President. Why did you decide on this site for the drive-thru?

Director Christ. So that is a great question, Mr. President. I—one of the things is our partnership with the Arizona Cardinals. So Michael Bidwill and the Cardinals have been strong partners throughout the COVID response. We actually had a testing site, in partnership here at—with ASU, Arizona State University, 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. But it's also got great freeway access. Everybody knows where it is. We can do freeway signs so that people can easily navigate into the parking lot. And with the NFL season in Arizona being over, it was the perfect partnership.

The President. I got a call during the Super Bowl from the commissioner of football, and—offering us, the Federal Government, the 30 major stadiums. So I think they're going to be coming to you to look at how you did it because you're doing such a great job.

One last question. Do you—I was pleased and a little surprised to hear that if a caretaker drove somebody, or if I assume a family member drove someone who qualifies to get the shot, they would also qualify as well. Is that correct?

Director Christ. Yes, it's a clinical decision made onsite, at the time. It depends on our vaccine supply and the capacity that we have at the site to be able to register that additional person. But we really try.

We know that people are in constant contact with family members and loved ones. And the more we can do to surround them with vaccinated people, like their caretaker, it just keeps people safer.

The President. Well, one of the things you may recall—the Vice President and I announced about 15 days ago that we were going to try and get 100 million shots in 100 days into the people's arms. We found out we didn't quite have the supply of vaccine we thought initially. We're all set now, but we're exceeding that number.

And so because of folks like you, who are dedicated—and I just want to—before I turn it over to the Vice President—she may have some questions—I just want to thank you for your dedication. You're saving people's lives, short term and long term. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm looking forward to meeting you one day.

Vice President Kamala D. Harris. Hi, Doctor. I join the President: thank you, thank you. This is an incredible model.

How are you reaching out to your hardest hit communities and those who may have a difficult time with transportation or just, proportionally, are some of the hardest hit but maybe not receiving the vaccine at the greatest numbers? What kind of outreach are you doing?

The President. We lost you, Doc.

Vice President Harris. Uh-oh. You're muted.

Director Christ. Am I good right now?

The President. You're good. [Laughter]

Director Christ. Okay, perfect. Okay, sorry—the technical.

So that is a really great question, Madam Vice President, and something that, here in Arizona, we feel strongly about. So this is just one portion of our State vaccination plan. So we are looking to partner with community leaders to put community-based pods in some of those hard-to-reach and targeted ZIP Codes. We have contracted with communications groups that specialize in reaching our Hispanic/Latino or our hard-to-reach populations to do intense communication about the importance of vaccine.

We're also working with our State's Medicaid program to ensure that we've got nonmedical transport available that they can use if they want to come out here to one of these sites or any other sites. And we're also taking advantage of the CDC's retail pharmacy partnership to make sure that we're getting those vaccines into pharmacies in hard-to-hit areas, as well as our community health centers. And so that's just a little bit about the plan, but we definitely are trying to target those populations because we know how at risk they are.

Vice President Harris. And my other question is the: What's the proportion—do you have a sense—of the folks that are getting the first vaccine versus the second vaccine?

Director Christ. So we here are very surprised at how willing people are to get that second-dose vaccine. So we've been—that was one of our lessons learned here at State Farm Stadium: We register people for their second dose before they actually leave this site. And prior, we had been just telling them we would e-mail them.

That has been great. We have a high demand for second dose. And we actually take people who are looking to get their second dose, but can't find it somewhere else, here at State Farm as walk-ins.

Vice President Harris. That's great. Thank you for your work. And to your whole team, thank them.

The President. Doing a great job, Doc.

Director Christ. All right, well, now I am going to hand it over to Brittney, who is our lead clinical supervisor. She is out at the vaccination tents, and I know she's looking forward to talking with you.

The President. Thank you.

Arizona State University Vaccination Pod Head Charge Nurse Brittney Hayes. Hi, I'm Brittney Hayes. I'm with Arizona State University. I'm the head charge nurse here at the vaccination pod at State Farm Stadium.

[Ms. Hayes continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

And then, as far as some of the successes, I mean, we're vaccinating one vaccine per 10 seconds, so I feel like that is very impressive, and we are giving people hope—giving volunteers and staff purpose. And then, feeling united. This has been a long year, and I'm just thrilled that we can give that unity back.

Back to you.

The President. We're really proud of you.

Ms. Hayes. Thank you. Thank you, sir.

The President. No, I really mean it.

Tell me about the number of volunteers. Are these pure volunteers? Do they get per diem or are they pure volunteers?

Ms. Hayes. [Inaudible]—for our volunteers. I'm not exactly sure everything that goes into that process, but over 50 percent of probably what is on my vaccination pods here are volunteers. All of our datafication people are volunteers.

The President. And when someone comes through in a vehicle, do they have to demonstrate proof of eligibility or have they also been cleared before they get to that tent?

Ms. Hayes. That's what I'm for—the charge nurse. I have dedicated that to them to make that decision. If they have allergies or something along those lines—immunocompromised, if they had COVID and had the convalescent plasma—that's my job to dig a little deeper than what the assessment of the vaccinator is and to really see that they are eligible, because I want to give the vaccine to everybody possible.

The President. Now, in Arizona, what is the age eligibility for coming through that tent?

Ms. Hayes. So we are—since we are doing the Pfizer vaccine, it is 16 and over, but the 16 and over have to be—the appointment needs to be made online. If they are a walk-in, it does have to be 18 or older due to them just being minors.

The President. Right. And what do you hear from the folks coming through that get the vaccine—that actually get the shot in their arm? What are the kind of things you most often hear from them or your volunteers hear?

Ms. Hayes. They're amazed—yes, no. I'm sorry. They're amazed by the process, the smoothness. I hear that a lot. I hear a lot of other touching stories, you know, that people have gone through due to COVID. And you know, they're here, and really we're instilling hope. A "dose of hope" is what I've been calling it. I've heard a—yes, but the smoothness of the process is what I hear most.

The President. Last question I have: How can we best support you and other frontline workers?

Ms. Hayes. That's a great question. So the collaboration that I have with FEMA, DEMA, all of the other State—everybody that I've partnered with here, I get nothing but the utmost support, and it's been amazing to collaborate with everybody. They check in. If I need something, it's done. They know that I'm trying to do everything to make this safe and efficient. So, support, yes.

The President. Well, are you a freshman at the university? [Laughter]

Ms. Hayes. No. No. [Laughter]

The President. I'm teasing. [Laughter]

Ms. Hayes. No.

The President. You look like a freshman.

Ms. Hayes. Why, thank you.

The President. Well, no, thank you for what you're doing. It really matters. As I said to the Doc last—a few moments ago, Dr. Christ, we committed when we got in that—we were short on vaccines and short on organization, and—when we got sworn in. And we committed to do 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days, and we're exceeding that. With the grace of God, the good will of the neighbors, and help of people like you, we're going to end up doing more than that. So thank you for what you're doing. You're saving people's lives.

Ms. Hayes. Absolutely. And I'm more than happy to be here.

The President. I'm going to turn it over to the Vice President. She's got the tough questions.

Ms. Hayes. Oh, okay.

Vice President Harris. [Laughter] Hi, Brittney.

Ms. Hayes. Hi.

Vice President Harris. Hi, thank you for everything you're doing. You are a role model of how this kind of approach can work, 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.

So what would your advice be to others who are setting up an operation like yours? What did you learn worked and what didn't work? So we can learn from whatever you have experienced. Ms. Hayes. I think—like I said, one of my biggest challenges was staffing and just how to incorporate—I feel like I have incorporated things that I had worked, you know, as a bedside nurse: getting a huddle together, getting a process together. I have made a actual "charge binder"—is what I have been calling it—that has everything my charge nurse would need to know to be able to run the site efficiently.

And then, I'm always available for questions and support. I think that's the biggest thing—is to let them know they are not alone in making decisions and— being able to keep our patrons and staff safe.

Vice President Harris. That's great. Thank you so very much. You're doing it, and you're making a huge difference, and you are inspiring all of us. So thank you for everything you are doing. It really does matter in such a big way.

Thank you.

Ms. Hayes. Thank you.

The President. And you're a—are you a nurse?

Ms. Hayes. I am. I'm a nurse. I'm an RN. I've been an RN for about 9 years now.

The President. Well, I know, having been a significant consumer of health care, I can tell—I know the Vice President knows this, when I say it: Doctors let you live; nurses make you want to live. If there's any angels in Heaven, they're all nurses, male and female. And that's not an exaggeration.

Vice President Harris. That's right.

The President. That's the God's truth. Thank you for all you do.

Ms. Hayes. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you. Okay. Keep it going.

Ms. Hayes. I'm going to turn it back to Dr. Christ.

The President. Okay.

Vice President Harris. Okay.

Director Christ. Thank you so much, Brittney. She is one of our most dedicated nurses out here, but we have such a great team behind us. You can see—this is the site behind us. It takes about 30 minutes to go, from the time you pull on to the time you leave.

But with me, I have our Acting Regional Administrator for FEMA, Tammy Littrell, and the head of the Arizona National Guard, Major General Michael McGuire. So I'm going to turn it over to Tammy.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Regional Administrator Tammy L. Littrell. Good afternoon, Mr. President and Madam Vice President. It is such an honor today to be a part of this State's initiative to stand up what I call one of the most efficient and effective vaccination centers. To just be able to see the—all levels of Government and the private sector, as well as all the volunteers, come together to help the American people get vaccinated is going to help us, as a FEMA team, be able to go back to California and be able to set up our vaccination centers in Oakland and in Los Angeles next week.

[Acting Regional Administrator Littrell continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

With that, sir, I believe another—I'd like to just take a moment just to share two examples that we have heard of, and that is the Navajo Nation.

The President. Yes.

Acting Regional Administrator Littrell. So as we support the Navajo Nation, we are going to stand up four vaccination centers. This will help increase their access to the vaccination, as well as take the burden off of their Tribal members from having to drive in these austere winter conditions that they are experiencing right now.

[Acting Regional Administrator Littrell continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

So with that, I also want to just close with thanking you, Mr. President and Madam Vice President, for your leadership in leading the way.

The President. Well, thank you.

Vice President Harris. Thank you.

Acting Regional Administrator Littrell. I will now turn it back over to you, Mr. President.

The President. Well, first of all, thank you. You're doing one heck of a job. One of the things that when we started to try to figure out what we were going to do when we came into office, because there wasn't much of a transition—we didn't have—we weren't given a lot of information. And some of the information we had turned out not to be accurate in terms of vaccine supplies. And we met virtually with all the Governors, and the Governors basically said, "Just send us the vaccine; we'll take care of it." And the fact is, I think they and everyone else vastly underestimated the logistical needs that go with having the vaccine—assuming you have enough vaccine.

And so one of the first things we did was we called in FEMA and also contacted every Governor, General, and told them that we'll pay for the National Guard, it won't be their expense, because you guys are—and women are badly needed. And in addition to that, the Defense Department has allocated over 1,000—they're going to go up to 100,000 people who are going to be helping along—10,000 people who are helping along the way.

So I just want to thank you for the coordination. I mentioned this to Dr. Christ a little earlier, but the coordination is really—it really matters. And we've got people who know what they're doing, starting with the Doc and you too, both with FEMA and—well, the National Guard. That that's your business. You know how to get it done. And so—and you are really doing it.

I just think what you put together is amazing. Our hope is that we're going to be able to not only get—keep the commitment to get 100 million shots in people's arms by the first 100 days—I think we'll get—we'll exceed that considerably—but also to—we've now been able to go out and talk with—personally with the vaccine manufacturers. They've upped significantly the commitments to the amount of vaccine they'll produce and when it will be produced. And so I—and things are beginning to click. People are beginning to feel that they can find their way to get the vaccine.

And lastly, one of the most important things for us—and you mentioned what's happening on the Navajo Tribe; I've met with the leaders—is that it really—it really does matter that we have access to the people who are most in need, but are—and most affected by the COVID crisis, dying at faster rates, getting sick at faster rates, and—but not being available, not being able to get into the mix. And so equity is a big thing, and I want to thank you all three of you—for engaging in that.

But I don't—we didn't hear from—I'm going to turn this over to the Vice President. But, General, I hope we're going to hear from you as well after the Vice President says something to—whatever she wants to say. Okay?

Vice President Harris. Thank you, Mr. President. Just a quick question, Ms. Littrell. Can you talk a little bit about what you think will be the challenges in terms of the mobile units and what will be the strengths of that? Because, again, we're going to be watching these first rollouts as a model for what we do in other places. So, from the ground, what do you see as being the challenges and the strengths of that operation around mobile units?

Acting Regional Administrator Littrell. Sure. I would start with the strengths only because I've talked to our CDC partners and the public health professionals, where, at first, I thought we were going to have—you know, be using or depending upon our—just our mobile command vehicles out of our detachment—our MERS detachments out of FEMA, which they are still going to assist and help us because they have the means to technology where we can take on the road and then also be able to allow those who need to enroll, be able to do so at ease.

But after talking with CDC and the public health professionals, they educated us and let us know that there are mobile operations within the public health sector that are really good at mobile operations.

So we're going to maximize as much as we possibly can and not just lean on our own understanding, our own FEMA resources in order to go mobile. So a lot to learn still, but we're staying optimistic that we're going to once again be able to come together and be able to reach those who need us the most.

Vice President Harris. Thank you. Thank you.

Acting Regional Administrator Littrell. Thank you, ma'am.

The President. General, how you doing?

Arizona National Guard Adjutant General Major General Michael T. McGuire, USAF. I'm doing good, Mr. President. How are you today?

The President. Better for seeing you, man. [Laughter]

Adjutant General McGuire. Well, we appreciate the partnership with FEMA and all the DOD, all our Federal partners who have been out here—IHS, HHS—all the things that have happened.

[Adjutant General McGuire continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So thanks for all you're doing there on the Federal team, and I look forward to continue to replicate this around Arizona, and hope plagiarism is the highest form of flattery. That's what we say. So if everyone wants to copy what Arizona is doing, we think we've got it figured it out here. So thanks, sir.

The President. Well, you sure have it figured out at that spot, General. And thank you for all you've done, and thank you for what you do. And you probably have been deployed with your group several times in the last 10 years, so thank you for that as well.

Adjutant General McGuire. Yes, sir.

The President. Madam Vice President.

Vice President Harris. Thank you, General. Thank you very much for all—and please thank all your troops for us.

Thank you.

Adjutant General McGuire. Yes, ma'am.

The President. And, Dr. Christ, thank you for the tour and to meet some of your frontline workers. I—you know, I'm sorry that we weren't in a position that the Governor could be with us today, but he's been very, very cooperative and very helpful. He's stepped up.

And this is the kind of partnership between the Federal and State Governments that I think—and the private sector—to help us vaccinate more people more quickly, and to get ahead of this virus instead of behind it.

And we're optimistic that we have enough—we'll have enough of the vaccine in the pipeline to be able to provide shots for over—including double shots for over 300 million people before we get through the summer. At least that's our hope. And it includes getting vaccines to the pharmacies—as you pointed out to me earlier, Doc—and vaccination centers like the one you have there. And we're going to need—if we need more vaccinators, we'll send them, we'll find them for you. So let us know.

And again, I want to thank you very, very much for your leadership. I look forward to—I wish we were in a situation—it sounds—it's counterintuitive—because of COVID, we can't see you—come and see you, which we'd ordinarily be doing—getting on a plane and coming out and looking firsthand. But you know, the fact is that you're the reason why we're going to beat this disease. And we will beat it.

You know, big or small, we're going to do whatever it takes to reach and surpass our goal of over 100 million in 100 days. And there's a lot to do, and it's going to take time. We're going to face some setbacks along the way, including the complication of the strains that we're seeing from South Africa and other places. But I know we can do it. We've never failed as a country when we've done things together. Never, ever, ever, ever fail when united. And you guys are the example of unity. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Madam Vice President.

Vice President Harris. Well, thank you all. As one of the first of this example of the partnership between the Federal Government, State, local, you all really are a model. And there are folks around the country who are going to benefit from the work you all are doing on the ground in Arizona—people who may not know your name, people you may not meet, but are going to be forever benefited because of your around-the-clock, hard work. You are taking this on as a personal mission on behalf of folks who need your help, and you are there to do what's necessary.

So thank you. Together with Governor Ducey, Senator Sinema, and Kelly, and so many others, I think we're showing how when we are unified, we can get a lot of good work done.

So thank you all.

The President. There's no such thing as a red State or a blue State when it comes to COVID. There's no such thing as Democrat or Republican——

Vice President Harris. That's right.

The President. ——when it comes to COVID. When we stand united, there's not a damn thing we've been unable to do. And you're the—you're a perfect example of that.

So thanks again. Stay safe. Stay safe. And thank you.

Vice President Harris. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 2:40 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to Roger S. Goodell, commissioner, National Football League (NFL). Director Christ referred to Michael J. Bidwill, owner, NFL's Arizona Cardinals.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks During a Virtual Tour of the State Farm Stadium Vaccination Site in Glendale, Arizona Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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