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Charlotte Will Pay Each City Worker $250 For Getting A COVID-19 Vaccine

 Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones speaks at Monday night's city council meeting.
Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones speaks at Monday night's city council meeting.

The city of Charlotte will pay $250 to each city employee who gets vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September.

City Manager Marcus Jones unveiled the vaccine reward program at the city council meeting Monday night. Under the plan, all employees would also receive an additional $250 reward if 75% of city workers are vaccinated by Sept. 30. City officials estimate the total cost for the program at around $3 million, if employees receive both bonuses, which will be paid for using coronavirus relief money from the federal government.

But Jones said the city will not yet require all of its roughly 8,000 employees to get vaccinated.

“We would hope that the mask mandate slows down the increase … and some of the safety precautions that we’re taking,” Jones said.

He added: “We’d like to see what the incentives would do first, before we go into anything that would be a mandate.”

According to preliminary results of a survey of city of Charlotte employees, which were also presented Monday night, 66% of employees have been vaccinated, with 90% of employees responding. City officials said the final results of the survey are expected Friday and they anticipate the final percentage will be around 60%.

The city’s vaccine reward program comes as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus leads to a surge in new cases and hospitalizations. According to Mecklenburg County data, as of Aug. 18, the county reported an average of 528 new cases and 368 hospitalizations per day. The latest spike in trends has not yet reached levels seen during the winter surge, when the county reported as many as 1,300 new daily cases and 565 hospitalizations.

Health officials in North Carolina have repeatedly emphasized that the vast majority of patients currently being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

A growing number of employers in North Carolina are mandating vaccinations. Mecklenburg County’s public health department has said all of its roughly 900 full-time, part-time and temporary employees must show proof of vaccination by Sept. 7. Novant Health is requiring all of its team members to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 15.

At Atrium Health, hospital system employees — including remote workers, physicians, medical residents, faculty, fellows, trainees, contractors and volunteers — have until Oct. 31 to get their vaccine. Cone Health, Duke Health, Wake Forest Baptist and six UNC Health hospitals have also made vaccines mandatory.

Copyright 2021 WFAE

Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literture and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, Claire likes listening to podcasts and trying out new recipes.