Gov. Tony Evers on Friday called for more Wisconsinites to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but said he’s not interested in using the state’s federal stimulus dollars to launch a lottery to promote more vaccinations, such as an Ohio program that will award $1 million each week to an adult who has received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Evers’ opposition to such a program comes after telling reporters earlier in the week he would “never say never” to using federal stimulus dollars to compensate people to get a vaccine.
An Evers spokesperson added later Friday that Evers is still considering general incentives for vaccinations, but that he doesn’t agree with Ohio’s $5 million lottery system that uses existing pandemic funds. In random drawings, Ohio will also provide five full four-year scholarships to an Ohio public university — including tuition, room-and-board and books — to vaccinated residents under 18.
“I just question the use of that money for that purpose,” Evers said. “I think there’s a lot of businesses and others across the state that have suffered dramatically, and $1 million would go a long way to help get small businesses get back in place.”
Increasingly, states and municipalities have come up with a variety of ways to promote vaccinations. New Jersey is offering a “shot and a beer,” Detroit is providing $50 prepaid cards to anyone who drives a resident to a vaccine site, and Maryland is offering a $100 payment.
The incentives come as Wisconsin and the nation struggle to reach herd immunity. While just under 45% of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the state is among the most vaccinated in the nation.
With the news that Wisconsin is set to get $2.5 billion in COVID-19 stimulus dollars, or $700 million less than originally estimated, Evers has said he’s committed to prioritizing using the money to help small businesses and restaurants.
Evers said he believes the state can still honor its commitments to small businesses, such as his already announced $420 million in business recovery grants, and $50 million to encourage businesses to move into vacant storefronts in downtowns and other commercial corridors.
Overall, Evers originally planned to spend $2.5 billion on economic relief for families, workers and small-business owners, including $50 million for the tourism industry and $600 million to support businesses affected by the pandemic, including $420 million in grants to small businesses.
He has also pledged to spend $500 million on the continued pandemic response and $200 million on infrastructure, including broadband.
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"I think there’s a lot of businesses and others across the state that have suffered dramatically, and $1 million would go a long way to help get small businesses get back in place."
Gov. Tony Evers