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COVID-19

Corporations offer to help with vaccine rollout

Marielle Segarra Jan 22, 2021
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Vaccine distribution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Some major sports venues are joining the effort to prevent infections. Scott Eisen/Getty Images
COVID-19

Corporations offer to help with vaccine rollout

Marielle Segarra Jan 22, 2021
Heard on:
Vaccine distribution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Some major sports venues are joining the effort to prevent infections. Scott Eisen/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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The Donald Trump administration left the vaccine rollout, for the most part, to state and local governments. So right now, “it’s literally the Wild West,” said Anna Nagurney, professor of operations management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“You need better coordination, better communication and emphasizing operational efficiency,” Nagurney said. “And we know how to do that.”

By “we,” she meant American companies.

To end the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government needs hundreds of millions of Americans to get vaccinated. And one of the hardest parts of rolling out the vaccine is the so-called last mile. In e-commerce, that’s the final step — the stuff that happens just before a package gets delivered to your door. In the vaccine realm, it’s the part just before the needle plunges into your arm.

The logistics are incredibly difficult. And big companies are offering to help.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Honeywell is helping the government host big vaccination events.

The company is contributing its technology, like bar-code scanning to help patients check in faster, said Taylor Smith, chief marketing officer for Honeywell Productivity Solutions and Services.

Also, “we’re deploying some of our camera-based, kind of vision analytics to look at the flow of cars that are coming through to these drive-thru clinics to identify where bottlenecks are,” he said.

Another example: Starbucks. It’s good at moving customers through its stores quickly and keeping track of their orders, so it’s working with Washington state on the people-processing part of the vaccine rollout.

There’s also the location problem: We need vaccination sites where there’s room for people to socially distance.

Enter Disneyland in Southern California as well as sports venues like Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park in Massachusetts and both major baseball stadiums in New York City.

Meanwhile, Walmart is offering more of its stores as vaccination sites, and Amazon just sent the administration of Joe Biden a letter saying it can help, too.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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