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Jab windfall: Ohio giving out million dollar lottery drawings to vaccinated citizens

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Five lucky Ohio residents could win one million bucks each in a random drawing merely for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. A separate lottery incentive is planned for those under 18.

In a lengthy Twitter stream, GOP Gov. Mike DeWine announced that starting on May 26th and running for five weeks, a Wednesday lottery will select one adult (18 or older) who has gotten at least the first vaccine jab to receive the windfall. The state will primarily use its voter registration database as a pool to draw names from for the prizes; nonvoters can sign up through an alternative webpage

Similarly, five vaccinated teens under 18 are in line for a full, four-year scholarship to an Ohio public university if they are selected in a separate initiative that also starts on May 26. Scholarship hopefuls can register via a portal that goes live on May 18.

The GOP leader noted that federal coronavirus relief funds will pay for both of these programs which will be administered by the Ohio Lottery, with more details forthcoming.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.’ But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19,” DeWine claimed on Twitter.

He also called upon Ohio businesses to offer incentives of their own to encourage customers to get the shot, such as those being offered by the state’s two MLB teams and others.

“A few examples: The @Reds @Indians are offering discounts on tickets to their games. With a vaccine, @WhiteCastle is offering free butter cakes on a stick. @Kroger is offering employees $100 in cash. We need more businesses to offer these kinds of incentives,” the governor noted in a tweet.

On a national level, Krispy Kreme is offering one free glazed doughnut per day through the end of the year to anyone who can prove they’ve received the coronavirus vaccine by producing their vaccine card. It’s an interesting strategy, particularly since obesity is a major risk factor for the virus.

About four million Ohio residents are fully vaccinated, representing approximately one-third of the state’s population.

DeWine, who is running for reelection in 2022, has taken heat from fellow Republicans for his various COVID-19 restrictions, including prompting a few legislators to introduce articles of impeachment, which turned out to be symbolic.

In March 2021, however, the GOP-controlled legislature overrode DeWine’s veto and, in so doing, voted to limit the governor’s ability to issue public health orders.

DeWine this week also announced that he is lifting all pandemic orders effective June 2, with the exception of those that apply to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, while acknowledging that “we expect that many stores or businesses may require social distancing and masking.”

Robert Jonathan

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