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(Starbucks Photo)

Starbucks announced today that its delivery service powered by Uber Eats will reach all 48 states where both companies operate by the end of April.

The news was part of the company’s annual shareholders meeting event, held virtually on Wednesday for the first time due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The live stream kicks off at 10 a.m. PT.

Starbucks began rolling out delivery in December 2018. The recent expansion comes at a key time for Starbucks amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Starbucks last week said it will shift entirely to a “to-go” model at its company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks, asking its customers to refrain from using seats or lingering longer than it takes to order and leave with a cup of coffee.

Inside a Seattle-area Starbucks this week. (GeekWire Photo / Curt Milton)

The Seattle-based coffee giant, which built a business around the idea of a “third place” separate from home and work, also said it will temporarily close stores in areas such as shopping malls and college campuses, and in communities hard hit by COVID-19 cases.

In addition, the company says it is modifying the condiment bar in its stores and allowing employees to use gloves when handling cash, among other steps to address the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The steps are in line with “social distancing” recommendations from public health officials, designed to minimize the spread of the virus and the resulting disease.

Starbucks announced last week that will offer catastrophe pay to any employee who has been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms. The company is also offering free counseling and other mental health benefits.

Starbucks stock is down 13 percent today, and more than 40 percent this month.

The delivery initiative is part of a larger push toward digital and technology-infused services. Starbucks opened its first U.S. “Pickup Store” in New York City this past November, catering to customers who use the company’s order-ahead app feature. The stores could become a hub for delivery orders, much like Starbucks is doing in Beijing with Starbucks Now.

In China, delivery made up 9 percent of total mobile orders during the most recent quarter. Starbucks COO Roz Brewer noted that delivery adoption in the U.S. is “pretty modest” compared to China.

Starbucks had closed thousands of stores in China due to the COVID-19 outbreak but reopened most of them last month.

Starbucks has more than 10,000 company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada, and more than 30,000 total worldwide.

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