Whitley suggested paying $50 to incentivize residents to get vaccinated.
“If we did that, it would cost $100 million, but that money would then be injected back into the economy,” Whitley offered.
While currently not allowed, Whitley said he spoke with Matt Chase, CEO and executive director of the National Association of Counties (NACo), about the possibility of getting the federal government to relax its regulations so that the county can make incentive payments.
Chase told The Texan that NACo is currently awaiting guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department about whether any of the $130 billion designated in the American Rescue Plan Act to assist local governments might be used for these personal incentives.
The Treasury’s website points out that the funds “will help [local governments] cover the costs incurred due [to] responding to the public health emergency and provide support for a recovery.”
In anticipation of the objection that those who already have been vaccinated would not receive the payment, Whitley said he’s suggested offering a back payment to them.
According to Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja, about 1.13 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the county.
He said that about 19 percent of the county’s residents have been fully vaccinated.
“Now is the time to get vaccinated while there is no surge and ample supply of doses,” Vaneja said.
He said same-day appointments are available at all vaccine sites. Several sites offer vaccines until 6 p.m. and also some Saturday hours.
Taneja also added that Pfizer is seeking approval for its vaccine to be administered to children ages 12 to 15. Currently, it is available to anyone age 16 and over.
Tarrant County had 796 confirmed cases in the week ending May 1. Additionally, 138 hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 positive patients.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.