Remarks By Vice President Harris During Virtual Meeting With Vaccination Clinic Staff
Fort Lupton, Colorado
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Second Gentleman. And Governor — Lieutenant Governor Primavera, Governor Jared Polis, thank you for your leadership. The President and I have been watching from afar and now close up, and your leadership has been extraordinary through these extremely difficult days and through this crisis.
And so I am here in Colorado, in the great state of Colorado — back here to, one, thank you for your leadership, to thank John Santistevan and Chief Nurse Rosy Mendoza for all the courageous work that you have been doing. You have not given up. You are giving people hope. You are protecting people.
The work you are doing at the Salud clinic — I have read about it, I’ve heard about it. And it is about reaching out, knowing that if we really are going to live the spirit of “love thy neighbor,” we must be in the community; we must be with the people; we must create spaces where people trust that when they go there, they will be treated with dignity and respect. And you are doing that work.
And, you know, the President and I, we are very excited about all of the work that can happen that will build on what you’ve been doing because of the American Rescue Plan.
Part of the — the work of that plan was to make sure that we put the resources into states and into local governments to get you the resources to make sure we get shots in all arms.
As you know, by the end of May, we believe we will have enough vaccines to vaccinate the entire American people. But it will be the work that you have been doing here that makes that actually happen.
But in Colorado, you know, the — you’ve looked at over 400,000 infections, over 6,000 deaths. And the tragedy in terms of the loss of life, the loss of jobs because of the economic crisis that resulted from this pandemic is extraordinary.
I know — and I’m going to be visiting with small businesses here in Denver and in Colorado — one in three have closed. And the sooner we can get everyone vaccinated, the closer we will be to back to what we would recognize as normal.
And so we are here to thank you, to let you know that through the American Rescue Plan, we are going to make sure that everyone gets those vaccines.
But we’re also partnering with, here in Colorado, 260 pharmacies, 1,200 community health clinics — again, because we want people to be able to go to the place they are familiar with, the place they otherwise go. A lot of the pharmacies are in the grocery store where they shop, the community health clinics where they otherwise get medical care that they trust.
So this is the work that the President and I are doing. And, again, here in Colorado to thank you for the work that you all are doing on the ground. We are in this together. I know, in Colorado, there have been over 1.9 million vaccinations and that you’re expanding the number of folks who can get the vaccines.
This is also about getting our kids back in school, getting our businesses back open, and making sure that we, as leaders, protect the health and wellbeing of the American people and the residents of our community.
So thank you all very much.
MR. SANTISTEVAN: Well, thank you very much. This is John Santistevan, President and CEO here at Salud Health Centers. So we’d like to welcome you. You know, Colorado — we’re famous for our snow, so we wanted to make sure there was some snow on the ground when you guys got here. So (inaudible).
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s beautiful. And you know what? We’re just — you got some efficient folks here, so they cleared the runway efficiently, like only you in Colorado know how to do. So we were able to land. Sorry we were delayed, but it was on our end that we were delayed, not yours. You guys took care of business.
MR. SANTISTEVAN: Yeah, when we were talking to the Secret Service yesterday, we were saying, “Well, this is a lot of snow.” And I said, “Well, not really for Colorado. We’re used to moving snow pretty efficiently.” (Laughter.)
But thank you for giving us this opportunity to host you, Madam Vice President and Mr. Emhoff. We’re very honored to be able to host you.
So, you know, if I want to tell you a little bit about Salud Family Health Centers real quickly —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes please.
MR. SANTISTEVAN: Salud started out as a health center here in Fort Lupton, Colorado, in 1970. And we started out in an old metal building that was affectionately called the “Onion Warehouse” because that what it used to be. So it still had the smell of onions back then. But we’ve grown to a system now where we have 13 clinics in 10 communities, and we also have a mobile unit that is dedicated to providing healthcare to agricultural farmworkers out in the fields.
So, last year, we provided — we saw over 84,000 patients and provided 280,000 visits. Also last year, we celebrated our 50th anniversary here at Salud. And over those 50 years, we saw over 1.7 million individuals and provided over 7 million visits. So that was really fantastic.
So, you know, as you know, Salud and other community health centers across this country have been on the frontlines battling the COVID pandemic. So we are now dedicated to helping vaccine vulnerable populations and individuals of color.
So, Salud was one of the — one of the first 25 health centers across this country chosen to participate in the health center COVID-19 vaccine program.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
MR. SANTISTEVAN: So we’re receiving vaccines directly from the federal government. And this really gives us a steady supply of vaccine to receive. And this gives us the time and opportunity to outreach to the vulnerable population bases and get them scheduled after their visits. So —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, this has been a — the work you are doing on the ground at Salud, Mr. Santistevan, is critically important. The President and I, from the beginning of this, have made it one of our highest priorities to make sure that we are taking into account racial disparities and that we supply folks on the ground with the resources you need so that we have equitable outcomes.
I don’t need to tell you that Latinos account for one in five infections nationwide, black Americans account for one in eight infections nationwide. The President and I talk about this all the time. In fact, we even created a Racial Disparities Task Force to ensure that we are collecting the information in real time to ensure that all communities are having access to the vaccine and that no one is left out.
But we couldn’t do that work without the kind of work you are doing on the ground and historically have been doing at Salud. And this is why we were very excited to join you in person, and so sorry we’re not there in person. But really do want to highlight what you are doing as a model of what a communit- — a community can do to make sure that we’re reaching all people and making sure that all people are vaccinated.
MR. SANTISTEVAN: Okay. Well, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time. And hopefully, sometime in the future, you can visit us again.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We look forward to that.
THE SECOND GENTLEMAN: We hope so.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And, Governor, thank you for the warm welcome — and Lieutenant Governor. And, Chief Nurse Rosy Mendoza, thank you for putting those shots in arms. You’re going to — you’re going to get us through this, but the work that you’re doing — and I know it’s taken a lot out of you and long days and nights, but we really do thank you. So on behalf the President — President Biden and myself, thank you all.