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Washington state taps Starbucks, Microsoft and Costco to aid vaccine efforts

Starbucks coffee sign hanging outside a shop


(OLYMPIA, Wash.) — Washington state has announced a new robust public-private partnership featuring corporations headquartered in the state — including Starbucks, Microsoft and Costco — to boost its vaccine distribution efforts.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the new effort, dubbed the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center, during a news conference Monday. The governor added that he has the “ambitious goal” of creating the infrastructure necessary to vaccinate 45,000 people per day.

“We can’t reach that goal unless we get more doses, obviously, from the federal government,” Inslee said. “We are advised that those doses will increase over the next several months, and we want to make sure that we have capacity to vaccinate folks in a timely fashion when that increased production occurs.”

To reach that goal, Inslee said the state is tapping into the expertise of Washington business leaders and labor unions, with each of these stakeholders focusing on a different aspect of vaccine distribution.

Coffee chain Starbucks, for example, will aid with operational efficiency, scalable modeling and human-centered design of distribution centers, according to a statement from Inslee’s office.

Microsoft will aid with technology support, and Costco will be tasked with vaccine delivery by pharmacies.

In addition, Kaiser Permanente is aiding in planning for mass vaccination centers and distribution.

Labor unions including SEIU Healthcare 1199NW will coordinate sending volunteer vaccinators to locations where they are most needed, and the UFCW 21 will aid with staffing and training coordination of vaccinators.

“This is a massive effort, and as noble as any cause will be in 2021,” Inslee said. “We are removing as many impediments as possible to Washingtonians getting vaccinated. We are going to deliver every dose that comes into our state. We will still be dependent on the federal government for doses, but we are doing everything we can once it gets here.”

Starbucks chief executive Kevin Johnson said at the news conference Monday that building up vaccination capacity “puts us in a position to play offense with this global pandemic.”

“We are not a health care company, but Starbucks does operate 33,000 stores at scale, serving 100 million customers a week, and we have a world class team of human-centered design engineers,” he added.

Johnson called the pandemic “a time for all of us as citizens and as businesses to come together.”

Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, added in a statement that he applauds the state’s “critical steps to accelerate vaccine distribution.”

“Microsoft is one of many local companies lending a hand with the confidence that, together, we can move faster to defeat this virus,” Smith said.

In addition to the revamped vaccination distribution plans, Inslee also announced new requirements for vaccination providers, effective immediately.

Those new requirements include mandating that 95% of vaccine allocations be administered within a week of receipt and that every dose received prior to this week be administered by Jan. 24. In addition, providers must submit vaccine data to the state within 24 hours of administration, and daily information on dosages (such as quantity and number administered) must be submitted to the state’s Department of Health.

As of Sunday, health officials in the state where the virus first appeared in the U.S. have reported a total of 277,404 confirmed cases and 3,903 deaths.

Washington’s sweeping vaccination plans come amid a chaotic national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines marred by confusion, long lines and broken websites.

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