It’s been over a month since the first wave of coronavirus vaccines arrived in the states for distribution.

Now is an excellent time to determine which state others should follow.

In this laboratory of democracy, New York could be considered a model….for failure. Take, for example, New York City (the epicenter of this country’s epidemic). People describe vaccine distribution centers as “ghost towns.”

The city’s 15 vaccination hubs were ghost towns last Saturday, and the city Department of Health is refusing to reveal just how bad distribution went.

One DOH staffer stationed at the Hillcrest High School hub in Queens on Jan. 30 said he did nothing all day.

“You cannot imagine how much nothing it was,” he said of the demoralizing day.

He said there were about 70 workers on hand — some earning overtime pay for 12-hour shifts — and about 10 people to vaccinate.

The worker said several appeals were made to DOH officials to be able to vaccinate people without appointments, and they were denied. He said the hubs had about 400 to 700 doses.

Meanwhile, distribution in California went spectacularly…for those with a great deal of privilege.

While affluent regions like the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California and Long Beach in Southern California were able to efficiently vaccinate their first batch of eligible residents, overburdened communities in parts of Los Angeles and the Central Valley have struggled to meet early demand as supplies remain low throughout the state.

“We’re one of the most innovative states in the world, not just the country, and yet we failed in the most basic ways,” said Nick Vyas, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Global Supply Chain Management. “We missed the opportunity to set the system up right the first time.”

I will point out that leaders among California Democrats (Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, Dianne Feinstein, and Kamala Harris) hail from Northern California.

In part, the distribution fiasco explains why Newsom is on the brink of facing a recall vote. It also helps explain why the state is now arranging for Blue Shield to spearhead the efforts.

“We’re suffering from individual and collective exhaustion. We just want this to be over, right now,” said Paul Markovich, CEO of Blue Shield of California.

With broad strokes, he explained to physicians and state leaders how the health insurance giant plans to make that happen, as they take over California’s vaccine operation.

“We are going to track all vaccines from order to injection. I’ve told my team, if there’s a truck on the side of the road with the vaccine in it just outside of Fresno we need to know that.”

Markovich said Blue Shield’s phase one involves improved communication, data, and tracking. Phase two will be accelerating the rate of vaccination.

“We believe there’s going to be more vaccine coming in the coming months, we need to be ready for it,” Markovich said.

On the other hand, West Virginia crushed the distribution process.

But the state is now being hailed as a vaccination success story, with 85 percent of its delivered doses already used, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, putting it second in the country behind North Dakota as of last week.

A key part of the strategy, health officials say, was the decision not to activate a federal partnership with the CVS and Walgreens pharmacy chains and instead rely on independent drugstores like those owned by the Reeds.

Meanwhile, there has been a plunge in the number of COVID19 cases in the United States.

The decline in cases is likely a natural drop after record travel followed by indoor holiday gatherings triggered a surge in infections, said Dr. Sarita Shah, associate professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, the agency screened 1.9 million travelers the day before Christmas Eve setting a pandemic record.

“We’ve seen these rises and falls in the COVID case counts now a few times, and they seem to really track along holidays or people’s movements,” Shah said.

Hopefully, the trend will continue down as the vaccine is distributed. However, red states may want to prepare for a spate of vaccine refugees from blue states.


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