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US live industry offers to help Joe Biden meet his ambitious COVID vaccination targets

By | Published on Wednesday 27 January 2021

Empty seats

With new American President Joe Biden hoping to ramp up COVID vaccinations across the US, the country’s live industry has sent the new Commander In Chief a letter offering to help speed up the process.

Although in relative global terms, the US isn’t doing so badly in vaccinating its population against the coronavirus, the country’s COVID vaccination programme is nowhere near achieving the targets set by the previous Donald Trump administration. Meanwhile, the new administration has been very critical indeed of the Trump team’s work to get the vaccines out as quickly and widely possible.

Biden has now committed to getting at least 100 million vaccine doses administered during his first 100 days in office, adding: “I think we may be able to get that to 1.5 million a day, rather than one million a day”.

The US live industry, with its network of currently empty buildings and expertise in crowd control, reckons it can help Biden achieve that target. And it’s said so in a letter signed by an assortment of live music companies like Live Nation, AEG and Oak View Group, as well as trade groups including the International Association Of Venue Managers and the National Independent Venue Association.

The letter notes Biden’s 100 million vaccinations in 100 days ambition and states: “We wish to offer the full support and resources of the live event industry. We share your vision of expedient, equitable, and widespread vaccine distribution. It is our duty, as businesses rooted in communities across the nation, to do our part to set America on a positive path during this time of crisis”.

“We represent businesses, workers and entertainers that make up the majority of the live event industry”, it goes on. “While we have been effectively shuttered by the pandemic, we have vast resources that, if fully utilised, could provide invaluable mechanisms in our country’s vaccine distribution. In fact, because we are shuttered, we are able to offer the full weight of our industry to support vaccine distribution beginning immediately”.

Venues are already being used as vaccination centres in various counties, including UK, and – for that matter – the US. The letter acknowledges that fact, but adds “our industry has thousands of venues throughout America that are under mandated closures and sitting empty”.

And, it says, “event venues make ideal community vaccination sites: they are located in most urban, suburban and rural communities, often near transit lines and with easy access to parking. Our interiors are clear span with bright work lights and empty standard refrigeration systems. Due to the nature of our business, our buildings and workforce are accustomed to patron queuing and crowd management”.

It remains to be seen if the new US president takes up the live industry’s offer of help. Everyone wants as rapid a roll out of the COVID vaccines as possible, of course, to halt the spread of the virus and get to a point where current pandemic restrictions can be relaxed. And, needless to say, that’s particularly true for the music community which desperately hopes for a return of live shows sooner rather than later.

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