Leaders on both the federal and local levels are stepping up incentive measures to motivate people to get vaccinated. With the expansion of the delta variant, positive COVID-19 cases have once again put a strain on the hospital system.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he wants to take the politics out of the COVID-19 response and do whatever is necessary to increase the number of people vaccinated.
“Unfortunately, once the virus mutated, that was something that created an additional challenge for us,” Demings said. “I went to a funeral today. One of my correction officers died as a result of COVID-19. So I have several other of our employees that are now hospitalized in critical care units.”
President Joe Biden announced plans to reimburse employers for paid time off to allow for staff to get their shots. President Biden also said states should use COVID-19 relief money they’ve already received to issue $100 payments to newly vaccinated individuals.
A spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis issued a statement to News 6 and cited other states that have issued similar payments, describing them as failures.
“The U.S. Department of Treasury released a policy statement on the use of COVID “State Recovery Funds” for individual vaccine incentives. President Biden is asking all state, local governments to use the State Recovery Funds to provide $100 payments for every newly vaccinated American. The Governor cannot unilaterally expend funds from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF), because any expenditure of those funds would require an appropriation by the legislature. For the current 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, the appropriations made from the SFRF are outlined in Section 152 of the General Appropriations Act,” the spokesperson wrote.
Mayor Demings said the governor has been catering to the national political stage and not the needs of Floridians.
“Certainly, the Governor has failed to lead in this regard. I think that in many ways our Governor is not focused on the people here in the state of Florida.” Demings said.
Walgreens, CVS and Publix are all offering free vaccines by appointment.