President Joe Biden’s new administration will rightly muscle up the nation’s fight against COVID-19. The federal government’s pandemic mismanagement has left Americans at the mercy of states’ varying abilities to set up effective public-health mechanisms.
As the federal response improves, several of Washington’s largest tech-focused companies have joined in to boost COVID-19 response in the Northwest and nationally. The logistical help offered by Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft — among many other businesses, large and small — is important help that has been lacking for far too long.
More than 400,000 Americans are dead from the virus and vaccine rollouts remain sandbagged. Solving this public-health crisis is the linchpin to mending the economy and pushing ahead for equitable education, among other deep needs.
Washington fell short, as did many states, when the federal government left them the burdens of creating mass-scale testing, tracing and vaccination systems. This state’s failure to build an efficient vaccine-delivery system encompasses multiple shortcomings, from slow delivery of received doses to the bungled tracking of vaccinations.
An investigation by the Times’ Mike Reicher showed how the state Department of Health and a software nonprofit mishandled statewide logistics, leaving data burdens on hundreds of vaccine providers that should have been more efficiently managed. It remains mind-boggling that, this far into the pandemic, a state so focused on the tech sector fumbled this long-known challenge.
State statistics showed this week that average daily vaccinations stand at about a third of the target of 45,000 doses per day. Biden Thursday afternoon introduced a 117-page national strategy for pandemic response. It ramps up to 1 million vaccine doses per day, more than double the CDC’s reported average Jan. 20.
These leaps forward will require deep resources to achieve.
Microsoft’s agreement to use its Redmond campus for community vaccinations is a meaningful step. The behind-the-scenes aid Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon offered for logistical challenges of managing a two-step mass vaccination can prove even more instrumental. Their acumen and willingness to share it will lend muscle at a time when government is — belatedly — positioned to take advantage of the help.
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