New York City will begin distributing $100 incentives starting on Friday to people who get the COVID-19 vaccine in any of the city-run vaccination sites, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.
The politician's announcement comes days after his previous statement that all city workers will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine; if they don't get vaccinated, they will have to go through strict weekly testing protocols. The incentive also comes amid the surge of COVID-19 infections in the area, primarily due to the spread of the Delta variant.
$100 Incentive for Vaccination
Last Friday, authorities reported that the daily number of new cases was about 32% higher than the previous week. The New York State Department of Health released data that showed about 45% to 65% of residents were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that in cities where transmission of the virus was reportedly high, including New York City, officials should consider following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) new guidelines. The protocols impose indoor masking for vaccinated individuals, NBC New York reported.
In his daily briefing, de Blasio said that when a person gets their first vaccine dose he will instantly get the $100 incentive. He said that people would be much more willing to get vaccinated this time. "It does not get better than that," he stressed.
Authorities will issue the financial incentive through prepaid debit cards that officials can either email to recipients in digital form or mail-in physical form to their homes. Rachel Loeb, president of the New York City of Economic Development Corporation, is responsible for handling the logistics of the incentives' distribution.
This effort is de Blasio's latest attempt to boost vaccination rates in the city. It can be recalled that he once threatened city workers with weekly testing or suspension if they do not get vaccinated. City officials have continued to struggle in encouraging residents to get the vaccine, with 40% still not even partially vaccinated, the New York Daily News reported.
New Mask Mandates
The Delta variant is responsible for the major surge of cases in the city for the last few weeks. The seven-day average in New York City rose to 2.55% on Wednesday, the highest that officials have seen in months. They also reported that 108 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19-related conditions, the Health Department revealed.
Many other states are seeing similar and sometimes more dire outbreaks of the virus due to the deadly new variant. The CDC issued new guidelines on Tuesday recommending high-risk areas in the United States to impose new mask mandates for indoor settings, whether or not the individuals are vaccinated.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said they received new scientific information that prompted them to recommend the new guidance. One thing she noted was that even vaccinated individuals are not fully safe from contracting the Delta variant.
Despite Walensky's announcement of the updated protocols, she said that the new guidance is still precautionary and that the best defense against the virus is the vaccine. She noted that breakthrough cases are possible.