Pennsylvania could pay the price to reach full vaccination: nearly $380M

Pennsylvania News

FILE – (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — President Joe Biden called on state and local leaders Thursday to provide $100 payments to newly vaccinated Americans as an incentive to boost vaccination rates. That means Pennsylvania or other local authorities could pay the ultimate price — literally.

Nearly $386 million, in fact. While neither state nor local leaders have announced any financial incentives for vaccination thus far, it’s important to know why such an incentive exists in the first place.

Biden’s call came as Pennsylvania saw nearly 1,000 additional daily cases for the second time this week — a nearly 100% jump on average since last week. The state’s most recent reports showed that 62.5% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older were fully vaccinated. That comes out to nearly 6.5 million people. But while vaccination rates slowly climb, so do infections.

For this reason, Biden is pointing to anecdotal evidence that a $100 reward will show results. The White House says a number of parties have experimented with the idea which saw great improvement.

But how much would the initiative cost in Pennsylvania?

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania’s 18+ population in April 2020 was just over 10 million. If nearly 62% (6.5 million people) are fully vaccinated, that means 3.86 million Pennsylvanians are not.

If each person received $100 to get fully vaccinated, that means it would cost approximately $386 million in incentives to reach full vaccination among Pennsylvanians 18 and older. But where would the funds come from?

Biden says states and localities can use money from his COVID relief law to pay for the incentive programs. The American Rescue Plan allocated $350 billion to states, territorial, and local governments in the form of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program, according to the Treasury.

Earlier in the year, Treasury officials determined that recipients could use funds to provide incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Just a day earlier, The Pennsylvania Department of Health said it was not considering the return of a statewide mask mandate despite the updated guidelines from the CDC.

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