Wyden, Merkley Urge Biden Administration to Use Live Event Venues as Vaccine Sites

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today they are joining with a dozen other colleagues in a bipartisan letter urging the Biden administration to use live event venues as vaccination administration sites.

In a letter to White House Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, the lawmakers said leveraging live venue facilities could further assist the federal pandemic response by helping expand the availability of vaccination centers as the vaccines supply continues to increase.

“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 wrote Zients. “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,” the lawmakers wrote. “This effort would also go a long way towards addressing some of the longstanding health inequities exacerbated by this pandemic.”

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, other senators signing the letter led by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) are U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tom Carper (D-DE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

“We appreciate everything Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley are doing to protect Oregonians during the pandemic and help lift us out of it,” said the National Independent Venue Association’s Jim Brunberg, founder and co-owner of Mississippi Studios & Revolution Hall in Portland. “We’re grateful for their leadership in an effort to create and expand vaccination sites that will help get coronavirus vaccines administered, and their communication with the Biden Administration to encourage consideration of 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.”

Full text of the letter is here.