California has selected another 15 people, each of whom have been selected to win $50,000 just to receive the coronavirus vaccine
A lottery-style drawing selected the winners from among nearly 22 million Californians who have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. State officials who identified the winners as to which county they live in plan to contact them in the coming days.
Fifteen others won the award last week. But state officials could not reach the two of them. Both were replaced by alternate winners in Sacramento and Monterey counties, Governor Gavin Newsom said.
In addition to $50,000 in prizes, the state has promised $50 gift cards to the 2 million people who get vaccinated.
But the big prize will be handed out on Tuesday, when Newsom will oversee a drawing where 10 people will each win $1.5 million. Newsom has said the same day he will lift the state’s stay-at-home order and end most restrictions on businesses – including stopping fully vaccinated people from wearing masks in most circumstances.
One of last week’s $50,000 winners was 17-year-old Nancy Gutierrez, who is about to finish her junior year of high school in the San Diego area. Newsom indicated that the money would go into a savings account because Gutierrez is under 18.
“My only advice: don’t spend all that money. Invest it in your future and your mind,” Newsom told her during a news conference in Vista, Calif., which was streamed on the governor’s social media channels.
Gutierrez appeared at the news conference with Newsom, smiling while holding a microphone and answering questions from the governor as he served as a game-show host for the second week in a row. Gutierrez said she and her family initially did not believe the news that she had won and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated.
“I think most of us want life to go back to normal and getting a vaccine will definitely help,” she said.
Newsom said California has given nearly 40 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine and that 70% of the state’s adult residents have received at least one dose.
Newsom said it would be “challenging” for the state to achieve a rate of vaccination to 75% to 80% of California residents with a single dose, but believes the prize money has been an effective incentive.
Newsom said the state administered 1.43 million in the past week, up from less than 1 million doses given the week before.
“Just a handful of states can claim to see a week-on-week increase in vaccination doses,” he said. “We’re here to celebrate it.”
Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat contributed from Vista, Calif.