Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is looking for assistance in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and he’s now turning to Starbucks to do it.
As NBC News reported, the Seattle-based coffee giant is assigning 11 employees with expertise in labor and deployment, operations, and research and development to coordinate with Washington’s state government on COVID vaccine distribution. The partnership is a move Inslee’s making to meet a goal of 45,000 vaccinations per day.
“We are removing as many impediments as possible to Washingtonians getting vaccinated, we are going to deliver every dose that comes into our state,” Inslee said in the Independent’s coverage of the partnership. “We will still be dependent on the federal government for doses, but we are doing everything we can once it gets here.”
“This is an opportunity to serve others and have an impact on a significant humanitarian effort,” Kevin Johnson, the Starbucks president and CEO, said in a statement. “Gov. Inslee has convened some of the best public and private resources and capabilities to engage in a concerted effort to optimize and accelerate the vaccination process across our home state. We are proud to contribute in every way we can to help operationalize and scale equitable access to the vaccine.”
The unusual effort comes amidst a particularly slow rollout in the Evergreen State. Just 31,581 people have received the two full doses for the vaccines that require it, as of mid-January. Washington’s population is 7.6 million.
NBC News noted that the Starbucks team working on vaccine distribution “will use the company’s computer simulation modeling system to find ways to expedite inoculations,” covering 39 counties and 29 tribal nations, with the state shifting in mid-January to attempt to inoculate those who are 65 and over.
“This is a massive effort and as noble as any cause will be in 2021,” Inslee asserted in a Jan. 18 press conference, adding, “Because this is the year we choose to get vaccinated, Washington.”
Inslee also hinted strongly that the incoming Biden administration would do more to help his state’s vaccination efforts—and all the states.
“I’m confident we’re going to have a much better relationship, that the federal government is not going to consciously deceive us like the last administration did,” he said. “And so I feel very good about our federal partnership moving forward.”
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