Ohio Governor Mike DeWine unveiled a lottery system Wednesday to promote COVID-19 vaccination among the population, before the mask requirement and other coronavirus-related state orders are suspended. effective June 2, the official announced Wednesday.
All orders related to COVID-19 in Ohio, except those for nursing homes and similar facilities, will be suspended, the governor said in a speech. DeWine, a Republican, noted that stores and businesses may still require the use of face masks among their customers.
Within three weeks of most restrictions being lifted, DeWine presented significant incentives. Starting May 26, all adults who have received at least one dose of the vaccine will be able to enter a lottery that will award a million dollar prize every Wednesday for five weeks. In random drawings, the state will also award five full four-year scholarships to an Ohio public university, including tuition, room, board and book payments, to state residents under the age of 18.
The prizes will come from existing federal assistance funds, DeWine said, and the drawings will be run by the Ohio Lottery.
State Representative Emilia Sykes, the highest-ranking Democrat in the state’s lower house, questioned the use of federal funds.
“Using millions of dollars in sweepstakes assistance funds is misusing the money that could be earmarked for the response to this crisis,” he said.
DeWine acknowledged that the use of financial incentives is unconventional.
“I know some might say, ‘You’re crazy, DeWine! Your million dollar giveaway idea is a waste of money,” he said. But the real waste, now that the vaccine is available, “is the loss of a life to COVID-19,” the governor said.
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