By Jon Blistein
Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Cornyn have sent an open letter to the White House’s Covid-19 task force, encouraging them to use shuttered venues as sites to administer the coronavirus vaccine.
The letter was addressed to the White House’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Jeff Zients, and was signed by a bipartisan group of Senators that also included Richard Blumenthal, Kristen Gillibrand, Kevin Cramer, Jerry Moran, Thomas Carper, Marsha Blackburn, Mark Kelly, John Hoeven, Jon Tester, Alex Padilla, Ron Wyden, and Jeffrey Merkley.
“In an effort to create and expand vaccination sites that will help get coronavirus vaccines administered, we encourage you to consider the use of live event venues and workforce to ensure that vaccines are accessible across all communities as the supply of vaccines continues to increase,” the letter reads.
The letter stressed the importance of using all available resources to boost vaccination efforts, not just because of the incredible toll already taken by Covid-19, but also because of the risk posed by emerging coronavirus variants. Because resources for vaccine administration vary around the country, the senators argued that “leveraging live event venues as vaccine administration sites will help to build on recent positive trends and address some of the issues that have contributed to slow vaccination efforts.”
The letter echoed arguments made by the National Independent Venue Association, Live Nation, AEG, and others in the live entertainment industry, who sent an open letter of their own to President Joe Biden in January offering to help with Covid-19 vaccine distribution.
“Live event venues have been effectively shuttered by the pandemic and offer vast resources that could help to better facilitate vaccine distribution — including facilities that offer spacious interiors and are designed to handle crowd management,” the senators’ letter said. “These venues are also located in urban, suburban, and rural communities throughout the country and are popular with the communities they serve, and they are well equipped to help provide access to vaccines regardless of zip code. We believe that working with live event venues will support your effort for equitable distribution of the vaccine across the nation — with a focus on underserved populations.”
Klobuchar and Cornyn have been heavily involved in issues surrounding the impact of Covid-19 on the live entertainment industry. Last year, the pair spearheaded the Save Our Stages Act to provide assistance for shuttered venues, and the bill ultimately made it into last year’s massive Covid-19 relief bill.