President Biden is urging states and cities to offer $100 to stragglers who haven’t yet gotten a COVID-19 vaccine shot — as the more contagious Delta variant prompts new mask mandates.
Biden urged the financial incentive one day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that city residents will get $100 if they get vaccinated.
Young and low-income people are less likely to be vaccinated, prompting authorities across the country to sweeten the pot with raffles, lotteries and gift cards.
The Treasury Department said the president wants state and local governments to consider funding $100 payments through $350 billion in federal relief funds included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill that passed in March.
“Today, the President is calling on state, territorial, and local governments to provide $100 payments for every newly vaccinated American, as an extra incentive to boost vaccination rates, protect communities, and save lives,” the Treasury Department said.
The federal aid to states and local governments can be repurposed for the checks, the department said.
“Programs that provide incentives reasonably expected to increase the number of people who choose to get vaccinated, or that motivate people to get vaccinated sooner than they otherwise would have, are an allowable use of funds so long as such costs are reasonably proportional to the expected public health benefit,” the statement said.
The $350 billion in state and local aid has been interpreted by the Biden administration as available for a wide range of uses. Biden last month urged cities to use their allotment to hire more police officers to combat an increase in violent crime.
As national COVID-19 cases increase, the CDC this week recommended that local government reimpose indoor mask rules, even for vaccinated people, if there are high rates of community transmission.
In Washington, DC, which on Thursday reimposed a mask mandate, authorities have been attempting to incentivize vaccine shots with $51 Visa gift cards.
According to CDC data, 69.4 percent of US adults have had at least one vaccine shot and 60.3 percent are fully vaccinated.