Nevada Awards COVID-19 Lottery Winners as Cases Soar

Amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the state, Nevada has awarded the first prizes for its vaccination lottery. [Image:]

Six lucky winners

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has handed out the first prizes for the state’s COVID-19 vaccination lottery. The government-run scheme aims to reward Nevada residents for getting their vaccinations as cases of the virus rise again in the state.

The public lottery offers Nevadans over the age of 18 the chance to win cash prizes if they have received their vaccinations. This week, four applicants won $25,000, one won $50,000, and another won the top prize of $250,000. Sisolak handed out cheques during a ceremony on Thursday, despite a brief interruption from an anti-vaccine protester.

The governor took to Twitter later that day to name kindergarten teacher Elizabeth from North Las Vegas as winner of the lottery’s top prize:

The first lottery prize announcement comes with Nevada experiencing a recent steep upturn in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The number of positive cases has more than doubled over the past month and the average amount of new daily cases has reached its highest point since February.

Vegas opens and cases rise

From June 1 this year, Gov. Sisolak ended all COVID restrictions across Nevada, including mandatory face mask policies and social distancing measures. This also included a return to full occupancy levels for all of the state’s casinos, which have been struggling with limitations since the beginning of the pandemic in March last year.

Since then however, Nevada has seen a 136% increase in hospitalizations of people with coronavirus, with a rise of 62% over the last 14 days alone. Candice McDaniel, a member of Nevada’s vaccination response team, explained the current situation in a press conference Thursday.

a key cause for concern”

McDaniel said Clark County, home to Las Vegas and two-thirds of Nevada’s total population, has seen the most cases of the state’s 16 counties. She also noted that the spike in cases corresponds to the June 1 reopening, pointing to the resultant boom in tourism as a reason for this. McDaniel added that the rise in Clark County hospitalizations is “a key cause for concern.”

With this rise in cases, government officials have urged Nevada residents to get their vaccinations. “If you are unvaccinated in the state of Nevada, that risk we’ve all faced since our first case over a year ago remains,” commented Michelle White, chief of staff for Gov. Sisolak. “However, now that risk can be even greater with the emergence of the variants and increased mobility.”

Widespread vaccination lotteries

Nevada officials are hoping the lottery will improve vaccination rates across the state, thus cutting down on the rise in new infections. The local government is utilizing $5m from the allocation it received through the American Rescue Plan to give away cash prizes every week through August 29. One lucky winner will claim the top prize of $1m.

Elsewhere, other states have also committed to their own vaccination lotteries. In May this year, the Kentucky Lottery partnered with Kroger and Walmart for a promotion offering vaccinated residents the chance to win $225,000. Meanwhile, the Oregon governor announced a $1m lottery later that month guaranteeing a winner of $10,000 in each of the state’s counties.

vaccination rates failed to surpass the 50% target in Ohio

The state of Ohio has also offered its own lottery, but low vaccination rates have cast doubt on the efficacy of the scheme. Coronavirus vaccination rates failed to surpass the 50% target in Ohio despite residents having the chance to win $1m each Wednesday. The lottery ran for five weeks earlier this year.

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