Honeywell CEO reveals how a walk with friends led to 20,000 people being vaccinated against Covid

  • Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk told CNBC on Tuesday the idea for a large-scale vaccination site in Charlotte, North Carolina, came about during a walk with friends.
  • Those friends were Carolina Panthers President Tom Glick and Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods.
  • "We said, 'You know, maybe we could help here. Maybe we could partner as a team,'" Adamczyk said.
  • More than 20,000 people ended up being vaccinated across the three-day event.

More than 20,000 people were vaccinated against Covid-19 last weekend at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The idea for the three-day event came during a modest walk, according to Honeywell International CEO Darius Adamczyk.

"In the Covid era, one of the social things you can still kind of do is go for walks outside with some of your friends," Adamczyk said Tuesday on "Squawk Box." One weekend, Adamczyk said, he went for a stroll with Carolina Panthers President Tom Glick and Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods, both of whom live in his neighborhood.

The men were discussing the rollout of Covid vaccinations across the U.S., which got off to a slower-than-expected start beginning in mid-December, Adamczyk recalled. "We said, 'You know, maybe we could help here. Maybe we could partner as a team.'"

Atrium Health, as a nonprofit health system with 42 hospitals, would of course be able to lead the actual administration of the vaccines, Adamczyk said. The Panthers, meanwhile, have plenty of experience managing big crowds at Bank of America Stadium, where the David Tepper-owned NFL franchise plays its home games.

Honeywell could bring to the table its logistics and distribution expertise as well as its technological capabilities more generally, Adamczyk said. Put all three of the Charlotte-based organizations together, he said, and "We think we could do something really differentiated."

"I've got to thank our mayor, [Vi Alexander Lyles,] thank our governor, [Roy Cooper,] for really taking a shot on us, because this could have been a disaster," Adamczyk said. But it turned out to be a success, he said.

The goal was to administer 19,000 vaccines at the stadium event, a spokesperson for Atrium Health told CNBC. More than 20,000 were ultimately administered. The week before, Honeywell, Atrium Health and Tepper Sports & Entertainment, the company that holds Tepper's ownership in the Panthers, also collaborated on a vaccination site at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where more than 15,000 shots were delivered.

The pace of vaccinations in the U.S. has improved in recent weeks, and the number of doses administered now exceeds the number of confirmed Covid cases since the pandemic began. As of Monday, 32.8 million total doses have been given, including to just over 6 million Americans who have received both shots of the two-dose vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been 26.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows.

The Bank of America Stadium event averaged one vaccination every 4.5 seconds the site was open, Adamczyk said. "The other statistic that I think is really important here, in terms of equity, is 30% were from communities of people of color."

"We did this in the course of three days — Friday, Saturday, Sunday," he added. "Twelve hours a day, 20,000 people. Think about if we could do that, set up 50 or 100 of these kinds of sites across the country."

Adamczyk acknowledged vaccine supply constraints may prohibit that vision at the moment, but he expressed confidence that those limitations would ease in the coming weeks and months.

"At the end of the day, this becomes a queuing problem, and the right way and the most efficient way to solve the queuing problem is to have very large, very efficient distribution centers spaced out throughout the country, throughout the states, and very quickly get these into people's arms," Adamczyk said.

"We've got to get back to living our lives again, we've got to get back to good economic times, and the fastest way we can have the economy recover is to get people vaccinated," he added.

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