Joel Coen went for his COVID-19 vaccination at State Farm Stadium on March 24, the day appointments opened to those 16 and older.
The Gilbert man thought he would receive his vaccination within an hour, just like his friends and family did at other locations.
During his three-hour wait at the state-run location, he saw lines of cars that stretched past the football stadium, Gila River Arena and beyond Tanger Outlets; a bus crash into a car; folks cutting in lines and unruly behavior that included the theft of Cardinals and ASU signs.
“It was horrendous,” Coen said. “Nobody was directing traffic. At one point, I took a couple of photos. A bus was stuck and trying to move, and it hit a car while I was sitting there.
“I thought, ‘What in the world is happening right now?’ It was just pandemonium. I was talking to a friend at the time, and I saw someone steal an ASU sign. It was a free for all.”
He said he called the Glendale Police Department and he felt he wasn’t taken seriously.
“They said, ‘State Farm will have to figure it out. We don’t have enough resources,’” he recalled. “I said, ‘You guys are going to have some serious problems soon.’”
The Glendale Police Department didn’t respond to questions before deadline.
Arizona Department of Health Services public information officer, Steve Elliott, said March 25 that the influx of people at State Farm Stadium was due to rumors that appointments were not required.
“The site was overrun last night with people thinking they could get vaccinated without appointments, apparently responding to an unfounded and widespread rumor,” Elliott said.
“Normally a visit takes around 30 minutes, including the required 15-minute wait after vaccination. To protect staff, volunteers and patients from the heat, State Farm is transitioning to overnight operations while we establish an indoor alternative in that area. Last night was anything but normal.”
However, Coen’s wife set her appointment for 9 a.m. March 28 and encountered the same problems.
“It was the exact same stuff,” Coen said. “She got stuck. They’re still not doing what they need to do to do better.”
The Coens did stick it out to receive their vaccinations, their first.