Uber Technologies Inc. has sent letters to all of the U.S. states’ governors, asking for its rideshare and food delivery drivers to get early access to the COVID-19 vaccine as essential workers. The company plans to send a letter to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden as well.
Less than a week after mailing out the governors’ letters, the rideshare giant sent a similar letter to a committee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These letters come at a time when limited initial vaccine availability and inadequate federal guidance have resulted in states being the entities to determine who will be the first in line to be vaccinated.
In a letter seen by Reuters, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi urged Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to classify workers as essential and entitled to vaccines immediately after healthcare professionals and nursing home residents: “Over the last nine months, these workers have been a lifeline to their communities. They have transported healthcare workers to hospitals, delivered food to people socially distancing at home, and helped local restaurants stay in business.”
Currently, more than 20 large industries have asked public officials to prioritize their workers. In Florida, where Uber has the most pandemic drivers at around 236,000, the state expects to receive 500,000 to one million vaccine doses for residents this month. The state has more than one million licensed healthcare professionals and approximately 146,000 long-term care residents.
At this time, it’s still unclear how the vaccines will be distributed and whether rideshare driver and delivery people will be considered essential. According to U.S. Officials, approved vaccines could inoculate 20 million people by the end of the year, which would cover approximately all of the health care workers. Doses for around 100 million people are expected by the end of February.
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