10 California Residents Get $ 1.5 Million Richer From Vaccine Jackpot | News, sports, jobs
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Governor Gavin Newsom distributed $ 1.5 million each to 10 vaccinated winners at Universal Studios on Tuesday to mark the end of the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
The grand total of $ 15 million was the last part of Newsom’s $ 116.5 million so-called “Vax for victory” Program, an attempt to encourage residents to get vaccinated and accelerate California’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that killed 3.8 million people worldwide and 600,000 nationwide.
Tuesday, celebrated as California’s reopening, marked the end of many coronavirus-related restrictions – like masks, social distancing, and capacity limits in most environments. Universal Studios encouraged guests to mask and vaccinate, but did not require them to do so.
Newsom and Dr. State Health Secretary Mark Ghaly was among those who did not wear masks during the vaccine lottery ceremony in front of Universal Studios’ giant rotating globe, a landmark of Southern California tourism.
Newsom, a Democrat, faces an expected recall election and his critics have called taxpayers’ giveaways a publicity stunt. The nationwide vaccination incentives range from beer to season tickets to holidays.
Ghaly said the state doesn’t have specific data benchmarks that would result in a return to restrictions and that local officials are expected to monitor their case numbers and vaccination rates in the coming months.
“There is no trigger” he said.
More than 3.6 million people have tested positive for the virus in California and over 62,000 of the state’s residents have died – numbers higher than anywhere else in the country, despite the fact that the most populous state in the country had a lower per capita death rate than that most of the others.
Now California has one of the lowest infection rates in the country – less than 1%, and more than 70% of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine.
Still, Newsom said state officials will continue to urge people to get themselves and their children vaccinated. On Tuesday, the state reported that 977 people were hospitalized with confirmed COVID cases – 251 of them in intensive care units.
“This is not a day when we proclaim ‘mission accomplished’.” he said.
Newsom was made at Universal by some of the studio’s famous characters such as the minions from the “Despicable Me” Franchise and Optimus Prime from the “Transformer,” as well as “Access to Hollywood” Hosts Scott Evans and Helen Cordova. Cordova is the Los Angeles nurse who became the first person in the state to receive a vaccine in mid-December as the surge in the vacation virus raged in hospitals across California.
“That was definitely one of the most difficult points of my career” said Cordova. “We’ve seen a lot more death than we’d ever want to see.”
The trio drew balls with numbers on them, in the style of game show hosts, who handed out huge checks to represent the 10 winners across the state.
The names of the winners – among 22 million people who must have received at least one dose; in total more than 40 million doses were administered – were not published.