A spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan pushed back on the claim by Amazon that it offered help on vaccine distribution to all 50 states, saying that Maryland was “not aware” of an offer from Amazon to provide that kind of help.
The comment comes after Amazon said Thursday it had reached out to the Trump administration about helping with the logistics of getting vaccinations into Americans’ arms but was told by the Trump administration to reach out to states instead. Amazon this week sent a letter to the Biden administration offering its help in distributing vaccines.
“We don’t know about any letter, but Amazon reached out to us this week about getting their frontline employees in Maryland vaccinated,” Mike Ricci, the communications director for Hogan, told Fox News when asked if the governor received an offer from Amazon to help get Marylanders vaccinated.
Ricci added that “[w]e are not aware of such a letter,” from Amazon offering assistance with Maryland’s vaccination efforts.
AMAZON DISPUTES CLAIM IT NEVER OFFERED TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CORONAVIRUS VACCINE DISTRIBUTION ASSISTANCE
The comments cast doubt on Amazon’s statement Thursday that it had offered help to “all governors.”
“We met with Trump’s Operation Warp Speed to offer assistance on vaccine logistics and we were redirected to the states. We then wrote to all governors offering to help distribute the vaccine,” an Amazon spokesperson told Fox News.
The Amazon spokesperson continued: “[T]hroughout 2020, we partnered extensively with the Trump administration to respond to Covid-19: we worked with the State Department to collect personal protective equipment from China when American doctors had none, we built new tools for researchers and public health authorities, we advised the US government on testing and more… To suggest that we waited to offer assistance for political reasons is simply wrong.”
Fox News obtained the letter that Amazon sent to Hogan dated Dec. 21, 2020, but that letter addressed vaccinating Amazon’s employees rather than helping with Maryland’s broader vaccination plan.
“Amazon stands ready to assist you to ensure our essential workers who cannot work from home receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest appropriate time,” the letter read.
It continued: “We are proud of the role that our essential workers have played during this pandemic to help customers stay safe and receive important products at home, which is critical for people with underlying medical conditions and those susceptible to complications from COVID-19. In Maryland, Amazon and Whole Foods Market have more than 25,000 full- and part-time essential employees who cannot work from home …”
Hogan’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ when asked to clarify when it received a letter from Amazon asking for help vaccinating its employees.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s letter to the Biden administration was titled “Amazon congratulates President Biden and Vice President Harris; lends support to vaccinating Americans.” It states that “we are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts. Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.”
A similar line is not included in the letter that Amazon wrote to Hogan, though.
After the news broke that Amazon was offering help to the new Biden administration, multiple senior Trump administration officials told Fox News that Amazon never offered assistance to the Trump administration with vaccine distribution.
WHY DID AMAZON WAIT UNTIL BIDEN INAUGURATION TO OFFER VACCINE DISTRIBUTION ASSISTANCE?
Amazon did have communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other administration officials, Fox News is told, but sources said no letter or formal offer was made.
Meanwhile, former Operation Warp Speed officials told Fox News that an Amazon offer would not have necessarily applied because the Trump administration was not doing a federal rollout of vaccines, but rather, leaving the distribution up to the states.
In addition to Maryland, Fox News reached out to North Carolina, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, California and Ohio about whether or not Amazon offered its help on vaccines.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) told Fox News that it got a copy of the letter Amazon sent President Biden this week but did not address whether or not it got an offer for help from Amazon during the Trump administration.
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“ODH received a copy of a letter this week that Amazon sent to President Biden,” it said. “ODH staff is following up to see what assistance they could possibly provide when it comes to vaccine distribution. We have no other details to provide at this time.”
Vaccinations will be one of the top challenges for the Biden administration, with pressure already coming on the administration to increase its goal of 100 million jabs in its first 100 days.
Biden in a public appearance Thursday night was asked whether he would do so, given the current trajectory of vaccines in the U.S.
“When I announced it, you all said it was not possible,” Biden said. “Come on, give me a break man.”
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins, John Roberts, Gillian Turner, Susan Li, Edward Lawrence and Yael Haloncontributed to this report.