WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is asking states and cities to use federal rescue funds to provide $100 payments to individuals who get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus as an incentive for them to get the shot.
The Treasury Department announced the move Thursday after releasing new rules allowing state and local governments to use their share of $350 billion in direct aid from Biden’s American Rescue Plan on incentivizing vaccines.
“Today, the President is calling on state, territorial, and local governments to provide $100 payments for every newly vaccinated American, as an extra incentive to boost vaccination rates, protect communities and save lives,” the department said.
“Treasury stands ready to give technical assistance to state and local governments so that they may use the funds effectively to support increased vaccination in their communities.”
The $100 incentive payments are among a number of steps that Biden was to announce at a press conference Thursday to boost plateauing vaccination rates of Americans as COVID-19 cases are on the rise again because of the Delta variant.
Biden plans to say that federal employees and contract workers will be required to show they are fully vaccinated or be forced to undergo COVID tests once or twice a week, wear face masks on the job and socially distance from other employees and visitors.
Biden also plans to direct the Defense Department to review adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for members of the military. The administration said that is particularly important because troops serve in places throughout the world where vaccination rates are low and disease is prevalent.
In addition, small- and medium-sized businesses will be reimbursed for giving their employees paid leave so that their children and other family members can get the vaccine shots. Biden also will call on school districts to host at least one vaccination clinic in the coming weeks and direct pharmacies to work with schools to set up such clinics.
Several states have offered financial prizes to encourage citizens to get vaccinated, and on Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off a $100 incentive for New Yorkers similar to Biden’s plan.
The White House pointed to $100 vaccination incentives offered by the Kroger grocery store chain as proof the carrot approach works. Kroger saw its vaccination rates jump from 50% to 75% after it offered its payments, according to the White House. The White House also said $100 incentive programs in New Mexico, Ohio and Colorado have encouraged more people in those state to get vaccinated.
In May, the Treasury Department sent cities and states their first infusion of direct aid from the American Rescue Plan – approved by Congress in March – that was intended to replenish revenue shortfalls experienced during the pandemic. But several states and cities have been slow to appropriate their funds.
Eligible uses include coronavirus mitigation and medical expenses, boosting small businesses, paying public workers, replacing lost tax revenue and water infrastructure.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.