U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Mack-Lehigh Valley Operations Manufacturing Facility in Macungie, Pa., July 28, 2021.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
President Joe Biden on Thursday called on state and local officials to offer residents $ 100 in cash as an incentive to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
During a White House speech on Thursday afternoon, Biden cited an investigation by the University of California at Los Angeles in which about a third of those unvaccinated said a cash payment would make them more likely for an injection, according to details of the plan approved by the administration.
“The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has allocated resources to states, territories, and communities that can be used to provide incentives to increase vaccination rates to provide $ 100 to anyone who gets vaccinated,” the government said in an explanation before the speech.
Biden also announced that his government will require federal employees to demonstrate their vaccination status or undergo a series of strict safety protocols as well as other steps aimed at increasing vaccination rates.
The latest vaccine surge comes as coronavirus cases begin to rise again in the US, with the highly contagious Delta variant boosting infection rates. People infected with the Delta variant carry up to 1,000 times more viruses in their nasal passages than other strains, which, according to the federal health authorities, leads to a higher degree of transmission even among those who have been vaccinated.
Infectious disease experts have warned of a possible spike in infections in the fall season, when Americans go back into the house and employers start moving workers back to the office.
Health officials claim the Covid vaccines provide strong protection against the variant, especially against serious illness and death. Nevertheless, the rate of vaccination in the US has slowed in recent months.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that nearly 800,000 shots were recorded nationwide on Sunday, the highest single-day total in weeks, but still well below the peak.
The seven-day average of reported vaccinations rose 16% over the past week to 615,000 daily vaccinations on Thursday, compared to more than 3 million daily vaccinations reported in mid-April.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that officials there will pay $ 100 to anyone who goes to a city-operated vaccination site for their first dose of a vaccine.
Biden’s comments come two days after the CDC reversed course of its previous guidelines and advised fully vaccinated Americans living in areas with high rates of Covid infection to return to wearing face masks indoors. According to a CNBC analysis, the guidelines cover about two-thirds of the US population.
While the Delta variant continues to hit unvaccinated people the hardest, some vaccinated people could carry higher amounts of the virus than previously thought and potentially transmit it to others, said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday. She added that the variant “behaves uniquely differently from previous virus strains”.
“This pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to the health of all Americans,” Walensky told reporters on a call.