COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio governor Mike DeWine on Wednesday unveiled a lottery system that is tempting people to take COVID-19 recordings, a persistent problem across the country.
The move comes as governors, health officials, and community leaders develop creative incentives to put more guns in their arms, including inside access to NFL locker rooms and an Indianapolis 500 garage, cash incentives, and various other promotions.
With three weeks to go before most of the state restrictions are lifted, DeWine introduced big ticket incentives during a prime-time address. Starting May 26, adults who have received at least one dose of vaccine will be able to enter a lottery that will award $ 1 million in prize money every Wednesday for five weeks. In random drawings, the state will also be awarding five full four-year scholarships to an Ohio public university – including tuition, room and board, and books – for vaccinated Ohioans under the age of 18.
The money will come from existing US dollars for pandemic relief, DeWine said, and the Ohio Lottery will run the drawings.
MP Emilia Sykes, the top House Democrat, questioned the use of federal funds.
“Using millions of dollars in aid in a drawing is a serious misuse of money that could respond to this ongoing crisis,” she said.
DeWine recognized the unusual nature of the financial incentives.
“I know some might say, ‘DeWine, you are crazy! Your multi-million dollar drawing idea is a waste of money, ”he said. But the real waste, with the vaccine readily available now, “is a life lost to COVID-19,” the governor said.
The White House and Treasury Department did not comment directly on the governor’s plan.
All COVID-19 orders in Ohio, with the exception of those that apply to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, will end on June 2nd, the Republican also said during the address. However, DeWine noted that stores and businesses may still require customer masking.
When announcing the end of the mandate, the governor referred to the sharp decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospital stays as well as the high vaccination rates among people aged 65 and over. He also said the vaccine is a “tested and proven weapon” that all Ohioans 12 and older can now fall back on.
“It is time to end the health contracts. It’s been a year. They followed the protocols, ”DeWine said. “You did what we asked. You bravely fought this virus. “
The 7-day moving average of daily new cases in Ohio has not increased in the past two weeks, increasing from about 1,522 new cases per day on April 26 to 1,207 new cases per day on May 10, according to Johns Hopkins Engineering.
More than 4.2 million Ohioans – about 36% of the population – had completed the vaccination process on Tuesday. However, the number of vaccine seekers has decreased in recent weeks. In the past week, an average of 16,500 people started the process, after numbers over 80,000 in April. Approximately 42% of Ohioans received at least one dose.
“There comes a time when individual responsibility just has to be taken,” said DeWine.
Corporate groups unanimously praised the decision. The news “is the next logical step in fully reopening our state to Ohio businesses and families,” said John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association.
“Removing these barriers is timely and will support the efforts of the Ohio business community to restore the Ohio economy,” said Andrew Doehrel, CEO and President of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Lisa Egbert, president of the Ohio State Medical Association, said the organization supported the announcement but urged all eligible Ohioans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
DeWine made the announcement even though its previous goal of dropping the orders had not been achieved. In a prime-time address on March 4, the governor announced that the remaining mandates would be lifted once the state had reached 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people for two weeks. At that time there were 179 cases per 100,000 people; As of this week, there were 123 cases.
Despite DeWine’s message, he had no choice but to remove the mandates. His speech came just weeks before other GOP lawmakers could have voted to remove all mandates immediately, under a law passed earlier this year on the governor’s veto. This legislation comes into force on June 23rd. House Republicans had signaled their intention to pass a resolution on Wednesday to prepare for a June 23 vote.
“There is a strong feeling that the health orders need to be resolved,” House spokesman Bob Cupp, a Republican from Lima, said earlier Wednesday.
Senate President Matt Huffman, another Lima Republican, said Wednesday it was time for mandates to end.
“Ohioans care about opening their businesses and doing other things that allow some freedom,” Huffman said.
Also on Wednesday, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney confirmed that executive agency employees who worked almost exclusively from home would gradually return to their offices from July 6th.
DeWine implemented the current mask mandate in July when the number of cases increased. This followed a mandatory mask ordinance in April 2020, which he withdrew only a day later under heavy criticism that the guideline was “a government mandate too far away”.
In addition to his daily or weekly lunchtime briefings, DeWine previously addressed Ohioans about the pandemic in prime-time speeches on November 11 and July 15.
Also on Wednesday, a federal judge denied Republican Attorney General Dave Yost’s request for a temporary injunction preventing US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen from enforcing a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act that states that states will not use their recovery dollars to offset tax cuts or credits can.
Judge Douglas Cole said Ohio had a great chance of proving the tax rule unconstitutional. However, the judge also found that giving the order against Yellen Ohio would not provide the relief he is seeking, as the Treasury Department’s rules on the money are still being worked out, the state has not yet received its money, and Yellen has not yet tried has to bring it back something.
Associate press writers Julie Carr Smyth and Kantele Franko contributed to this report.