MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. - No business can master a drive-thru like Chick-fil-A, and a restaurant manager is getting high praise for using the company’s method to help workers at a COVID-19 vaccination site after a computer glitch caused a traffic gridlock.
Mayor Will Haynie said he was notified on Jan. 22 that traffic was backed up for an hour at the COVID-19 vaccination site at Seacoast Church. He called Chick-fil-A Manager Jerry Walkowiak for help, knowing the company had a great reputation for mastering the art of drive-thru.
Haynie said he already had the manager’s number from a friend who also worked for the restaurant.
"I called him [Walkowiak] on my way over and he actually got there before I did," Haynie told FOX Television Stations on Monday. "He was standing there. He was moving people along."
Haynie tweeted a video of the site.
"Chic Fil A manager Jerry Walkowiak donating his professional drive thru experience to help our vaccination program in Mt. Pleasant today," Haynie posted. "When you need help, call the pros."
Haynie said Walkowiak, while standing out in the cold rain, used the Chick-fil-A method to speed up the drive-thru, including walking up to drivers in advance to make sure they had their paperwork and immediately directing them to a spot to receive their vaccine.
Haynie said Walkowiak was able to reduce the wait from an hour to 15 minutes.
"All those issues got fixed as things progressed. Thank you for your patience. A software glitch at the start caused a 1 hour delay," the mayor later responded. "Chic Fil A to the rescue!"
Haynie said he plans to use Walkowiak and Chick-fil-A again in the future to help out at distribution sites.
As of Sunday, the state’s health department said South Carolina had received 542,750 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine and administered 277,258 doses. People 70 years old or older are available to get the vaccine in addition to medical personnel.
Coronavirus deaths and cases per day in the U.S. dropped markedly over the past couple of weeks but are still running at alarmingly high levels, and the effort to snuff out COVID-19 is becoming an ever more urgent race between the vaccine and the mutating virus.
Deaths are running at an average of just under 3,100 a day, down from more than 3,350 less than two weeks ago. New cases are averaging about 170,000 a day after peaking at almost 250,000 on Jan. 11. The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital in the U.S. has fallen to about 110,000 from a high of 132,000 on Jan. 7.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. The story was reported from Los Angeles.