Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Thursday pitched a number of taxpayer-funded gimmicks to boost sagging coronavirus vaccination numbers.
Whitmer had vowed to be at a state vaccination rate of 70 percent before fully reopening but backtracked after a series of hypocrisies were exposed and residents were not heeding her calls to get an inoculation. She rescinded most restrictions sooner than planned after political pressure grew.
Now, in an effort to reach 70 percent, Whitmer announced a partnership with Meijer and the Michigan Association of United Ways to offer $5 million in cash prizes and scholarships to residents who register after receiving a vaccination.
The Detroit Free Press reported:
The sweepstakes will involve a series of statewide drawings with an aim of encouraging more Michiganders to get a COVID-19 vaccine and raise the statewide immunization rate by roughly 9% — or nearly 768,000 Michiganders — to hit a statewide goal of 70% of residents age 16 and older who are immunized.
The pace of vaccinations has dropped substantially in Michigan since the peak in the week ending April 10, when 400,846 Michiganders got a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 276,400 received a second dose, state health department data show. In the week ending June 21, 43,250 people got first doses and 85,456 got second doses – a decline of 89.2% and 69%, respectively.
Whitmer said the current rate is 62.4 percent, and daily rates have slowed considerably.
The Detroit News noted the prizes will be financed by federal coronavirus relief dollars:
The $5 million behind the initiative comes from federal relief funds already allocated by the Legislature to the state’s COVID response. https://t.co/m2dPLUiugN
You can register at https://t.co/AM0es8RjzH
— Craig Mauger (@CraigDMauger) July 1, 2021
According to the Whitmer raffle’s website, illegal aliens are disqualified from participating.
“The $1M Drawing, $50k Daily Drawings and $2M Drawing are only open to legal United States residents residing in Michigan who are 18 years of age or older as of the corresponding drawing date,” it says.
Illegals are also excluded from the scholarship opportunities.
“The Scholarship Drawing is only open to legal United States residents residing in Michigan who are between the ages of 12 and 17 as of the corresponding drawing date,” the website states.
Whitmer noted Ohio was the first state to offer financial gimmicks to get the vaccine approved for emergency use. But, she said, Michigan is going to do it “bigger and better,” the Oakland Press reported.
The sweepstakes concept was originally deemed illegal in Michigan, and when Whitmer was questioned about that Thursday, she said the new program is “powered” by Meijer and the United Way association, but she did not elaborate on what that means.