California is giving away the country’s largest pot of vaccine prize money — $116.5 million — in an attempt to get millions more inoculated before the most populous state fully reopens later this month
The first in a series of drawings is Friday, June 4. You can watch it below:
Some mask mandates, state of emergency to remain after June 15
Newsom is also responding to the concerns about a recent decision by Cal OSHA requiring some workers to continue wearing masks after the planned 'reopening' date of June 15. Newsom explained that we are "not there yet" and we need to remain mindful that the COVID-19 disease and variants are still present.
Newsom also explained that he does not intend to lift the State of Emergency in California after the planned reopening date of June 15. It will remain in effect.
State lottery to encourage vaccinations
Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the prizes, which include $1.5 million each for 10 Californians, the largest single award offered in any state.
The goal is to motivate roughly 12 million people who are eligible but not yet vaccinated, though the more than 20 million Californians already partially or fully vaccinated also are in the running for the most valuable prizes.
LIVE NOW: Watch Governor @GavinNewsom draw the first 15 winners of the $50,000 Fridays cash prizes - totaling $750,000 - as part of California's $116.5 million #VaxFTW program! 🎉 https://t.co/9sOw6VbA4M— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) June 4, 2021
“We’re putting aside more resources than any other state in America, and we’re making available the largest prizes of any state in America for those that seek to get vaccinated,” Newsom announced in May at a vaccination event at an East Los Angeles high school.
The state will give $50 gift cards either for general use or for specific grocery stores to the next 2 million people who get shots, including those at the school where Newsom spoke.
Newsom, a freshman Democrat facing a likely recall election in the fall, defended the spending as smart policy aimed at ensuring more than 70% of eligible people are inoculated before the state fully reopens businesses and relaxes social distancing and masking rules on June 15.
On that day, a drawing will be held to award 10 vaccinated people the top prize. Another 30 people will win $50,000 each, with those drawings starting June 4.
Anyone 12 and older who has received at least one shot will be eligible. The state will use its immunization database to automatically enter people into the drawings, though it’s still exploring how to include those vaccinated at federal facilities, such as veterans hospitals.
Newsom said he hopes to give out all the gift cards by June 15, which would mean 2 million more people are vaccinated.
Money for the prizes will come from the state’s disaster response account, which will be reimbursed by federal coronavirus relief money, said Amelia Matier, a Newsom spokeswoman.
When asked if the expense is worth it, the governor replied that the “cost of not getting vaccinated is exponentially, incalculably higher.”