California is hopping on the trend of cash prizes for vaccinated individuals in hopes that the incentive will stimulate its plateauing vaccination rate.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that the state is offering the nation’s largest vaccine prize money — $116.5 million — to get millions more inoculated before the state’s reopening next month.
“This is all in an effort to incentivize and build momentum,” Newsom said.
Ten vaccinated residents 12 years and older will have the chance to win $1.5 million dollars apiece, and another 30 will win $50,000 each on June 4 and June 11. Anyone 12 and older who has received at least one shot will be eligible, even if they have already received their shot.
The state is also giving $50 grocery or prepaid gift cards to the next 2 million Californians who begin and complete their vaccination, starting Thursday.
1.9 million people got the vaccine in the last week, and the number of people seeking a first dose has fallen, according to the Sacramento Bee. More than 22 million of the state’s 40 million residents have received at least one dose, according to data from the California COVID website.
“Some Californians weren’t ready to get their COVID-19 vaccine on Day One, and that’s OK. This program is designed to encourage those who need extra support to get vaccinated and help keep California safe,” Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, director of the state’s department of public health, added in a statement.
Also in the news:
►About 2.75 million entered, but only two won Ohio’s first Vax-a-Million drawing. Abbigail Bugenske, 22, of Silverton, Ohio, won the $1 million prize and Joseph Costello, 14, of Englewood, Ohio, won a full-ride college scholarship. “It absolutely has not processed yet … it feels like this is happening to a different person,” Bugenske said at a news conference Thursday. “I cannot believe it.”
►With the governor out of the state, Idaho’s lieutenant governor issued an executive order Thursday banning masks in schools and public buildings, saying the face-covering directives threatened people’s freedom. Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is acting governor while Gov. Brad Little is at the Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville.
►Vaccinated kids 12 to 17 will have a chance to win a full ride to public universities and colleges in New York state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will raffle off 50 scholarships, which would cover four years of tuition, room and board, books and supplies.
►Disneyland fans won’t need a California address to get into the park after June 14. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will welcome visitors from outside the state beginning June 15, park officials said. The park had reopened in late April after a 412-day, pandemic-induced shutdown – but only to California residents.
►43% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders 18 to 44 feel COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, said a survey by the Pacific Islander Center of Primary Care Excellence and the American Association of Psychologists, reported The Yappie.
►Pedestrian advocates want to keep some of San Francisco’s most prominent streets, such as the main road into Golden Gate Park, off-limits to cars. Others are pushing back, saying they need to drive to work, drop off kids and get around. The debate has been marked by dueling rallies and strident arguments over safety and climate change in the densely packed city.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 591,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 168 million cases and 3.5 million deaths. More than 359.8 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 289.2 million have been administered, according to the CDC. More than 131.8 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 39.7% of the population.
📘 What we’re reading: Millions of school-age children spent the last academic year trying to learn at home as the COVID-19 pandemic raged around them. For many, it wasn’t easy, and when they return to buildings in the fall, they are going to need extra support, experts say.
Ten states, mostly in the Northeast, have now reached President Joe Biden’s goal to vaccinate at least 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. And multiple studies are indicating that immunity may persist for months – or even years.
A majority of people infected by COVID-19 still have antibodies against the virus 10 months later, according to a study published this week. Two other studies published Monday studied people who had been exposed to the virus a year ago and found that cells retain a memory of the coronavirus that only strengthens over time.
National Institutes of Health director Anthony Fauci said Wednesday at an appropriations hearing that people who have been vaccinated will probably need to get a booster shot to maintain their immunity, but when that shot may be is unclear.
A year or so ago it was almost impossible to get a COVID test. Now they are everywhere, and nobody is using them. But experts say testing will remain a vital tool to track the virus. About 1 in 5 Americans said they will definitely not get vaccinated or will get a shot only if required, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released this month. Some Americans with compromised immune systems or other health conditions who get vaccinated might not be fully protected. And even immunized people in rare instances can get sickened with breakthrough infections. Read more here.
“Testing remains essential,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, lead epidemiologist for the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. “It is the foundation of our surveillance for this virus. It is how we understand is the situation is getting better or worse.”
– Ken Alltucker
Numerous studies show a depression spike among college-age young adults and an increase in anti-depressant drug refills. As these students graduate and join the workforce, they do so without the free or cheap mental health care available at college, worrying economists. So health care professionals are calling on universities to expand, not trim, on-campus counseling resources for students and staff when they restore in-person instruction in a few months.
“I do worry that once things are back to normal, colleges are going to become complacent,” said Gerri Taylor of the American College Health Association. “I think there’s going to be a backlash, a sort of PTSD, from COVID.”
– Lindsay Schnell
U.S. health officials have granted emergency authorization to a third antibody drug to help reduce hospitalizations and deaths because of COVID-19.
The FDA said Wednesday that it authorized the drug from GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology for people with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 who face extra risks of severe illness, including seniors and those with underlying health problems.
There has been low demand for two similar drugs already available, due mainly to the logistical hurdles of delivering them and confusion about their availability. U.S. health officials have been trying to raise awareness of the treatments, connecting people who test positive for COVID-19 with information about nearby providers.
The drugs are delivered as a one-time intravenous infusion at a hospital or clinic and should be given within 10 days of the start of symptoms.
The World Health Organization reported Tuesday that coronavirus cases have dropped 14% worldwide in the past week, and deaths are down 2%. Over 4.1 million new cases have been reported, as well as 84,000 deaths.
Though encouraging, the WHO still warns that cases were still rising in many regions, like in India and Central America.
“There’ll come a time when we can all take off our masks, no longer have to keep our distance from each other, can go safely to concerts, sporting events, rallies and restaurants – as people in some countries are able to do now because they have no COVID-19 transmission,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Monday COVID briefing. “But for most of the world’s population who aren’t yet vaccinated, we’re not there yet.”
Days after a U.S. intelligence report revived concerns about the origins of COVID-19, President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he has asked the intelligence community to “redouble” its investigatory efforts into how and where the coronavirus emerged.
“I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days,” Biden said in a statement.
The order comes after reports that three researchers at a lab in Wuhan, China, the city where the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated, fell sick in the fall of 2019.
Contributing: The Associated Press