Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has written a letter to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. in the letter she requests that drivers for the San Francisco-based company be classified as essential workers, thereby giving them priority to receive the COVID vaccine.
Such a request is certainly going to spark debate. Are these drivers considered essential in the same way first responders, doctors and nurses are? Are they any different than bus drivers? I guess it’s up to you. What’s your opinion?
Here is a copy of the letter, dated December 20, 2020:
Uber Technologies, Inc. 1455 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94103 Uber.com
The Honorable Phil Murphy Governor of the State of New Jersey The State House, P.O. Box 001 Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Murphy:
The past nine months have been among America’s most tragic and challenging in a generation. Developing safe and effective coronavirus vaccines in the same amount of time has been a monumental achievement of science and American ingenuity. Yet distributing vaccines fairly and efficiently will be a massive logistical challenge. I write to you today to offer Uber’s support in making this critical endeavor a success in New Jersey.
As CEO of Uber, I also want to take this opportunity to underscore the importance of protecting the health and safety of the millions of people who have kept our communities running during the pandemic. Public health experts have recognized that rideshare drivers and food delivery people, including the 116,144 in New Jersey who have earned money on the Uber platform during the pandemic, should, as frontline workers, receive prioritized access to the vaccine in Phase 1b.1
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. And while earlier this year Uber committed to funding 10 million free rides and deliveries for healthcare workers, seniors, and people in need, it was ultimately drivers and delivery people who made it happen. As you finalize your state-level allocation and distribution plans, I encourage you to recognize the essential nature of their work.
1 This designation is further supported by the November 23rd meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to upgrade non-healthcare essential workers to Phase 1b. The explicit inclusion of taxi, rideshare, delivery and freight drivers in Phase 1b would also align with the guidance of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which explicitly includes taxi, delivery services, transportation network providers (including rideshare drivers), and truck drivers as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” and the National Academies of Sciences (NAS)’s Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, which identifies passenger transportation drivers and food delivery workers as “Critical Workers in High-Risk Settings.”
I want to ensure these individuals can receive immunizations quickly, easily and for free, and I offer Uber’s assistance to you in making that a reality.
Of course, tens of millions more people will need to be immunized in each of the coming months. From the outset of the pandemic, Uber has worked in partnership with state and local governments across the country to support their pandemic response. As you turn your attention to what we hope is the end stage of this public health emergency, I want you to know that we remain committed to doing our part.
We believe we can use our suite of apps, used by millions of people every day, to disseminate high-quality information about vaccines, rooted in science and the latest public health advice, as we have done with our recent efforts to encourage the wearing of masks. We believe we can help increase awareness of and trust in the COVID-19 vaccine, while encouraging those who are eligible to get vaccinated.
We also believe that we can use our technology to remove transportation barriers faced by individuals who will need to travel to their vaccination appointments, especially those in higher- risk groups and in communities of color, which have borne the disproportionate brunt of this pandemic. This is particularly critical given the importance of ensuring people who receive a first round of the vaccine return for their second and final shot.
My earnest hope is that Uber can continue to be a resource for the people of your state in the coming months. Together, I hope we can use our technology to accelerate the end of this public health crisis and the beginning of the economic recovery to come.
Chief Executive Officer Uber Technologies, Inc.
Judith Persichilli RN, BSN, MA, Commissioner of Health
David J. Adinaro, MD, FACEP, Deputy Commissioner of Public Health Services
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