Nevada Awards COVID-19 Vaccination Lottery Winners as Cases Soar

  • Six lucky vaccinated Nevada residents earned cash prizes in the state-run lottery on Thursday
  • The top prize winner, Elizabeth of North Las Vegas, took home a grand total of $250,000
  • A rise in virus cases and hospitalizations in Nevada has coincided with the ending of restrictions
  • Other states have lauched their own vaccination lotteries, including Kentucky, Oregon, and Ohio
A person holding a vaccination
Amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the state, Nevada has awarded the first prizes for its vaccination lottery. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Six lucky winners

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has handed out the first prizes for the state’s COVID-19 vaccination lottery this week, while cases of coronavirus continue to rise across the jurisdiction. The government-run scheme aims to reward Nevada residents for getting their inoculations.

The public lottery offers Nevadans over the age of 18 the chance to win cash prizes if they have received their jabs. This week, four participants won $25,000, one bagged $50,000, and another took home the top prize of $250,000. Sisolak handed out cheques during a ceremony on Thursday, despite a brief interruption from an anti-vaccines protester.

The governor took to Twitter later that day to name kindergarten teacher Elizabeth from North Las Vegas as winner of the lottery’s top prize:

The first lottery prize announcement comes with Nevada experiencing a recent steep upturn in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The number of positive cases has more than doubled over the past month, and the average amount of new daily cases has reached its highest point since February.

Vegas opens and cases rise

On June 1, Gov. Sisolak ended all COVID restrictions across Nevada, including mandatory face mask policies and social distancing measures. The state saw a return to full occupancy levels in all the casinos, which have been struggling with limitations since the beginning of the pandemic in March last year.

Since then, however, Nevada has seen a 136% increase in hospitalizations of people with coronavirus, with a rise of 62% over the last 14 days alone. Candice McDaniel, a member of Nevada’s vaccination response team, explained the current situation in a press conference on Thursday.

a key cause for concern”

McDaniel said Clark County, home to Las Vegas and two-thirds of Nevada’s total population, has seen the most cases of the state’s 16 counties. She also noted that the spike in cases corresponds to the June 1 reopening, pointing to the resultant boom in tourism as a reason for this. McDaniel added that the rise in Clark County hospitalizations is “a key cause for concern.”

With this rise in cases, government officials have urged Nevada residents to get their vaccinations. “If you are unvaccinated in the state of Nevada, that risk we’ve all faced since our first case over a year ago remains,” commented Michelle White, chief of staff for Gov. Sisolak. “However, now that risk can be even greater with the emergence of the variants and increased mobility,” she added.

Widespread vaccination lotteries

Nevada officials are hoping the lottery will improve vaccination rates across the state, thus cutting down on the rise in new infections. The local government is utilizing $5m from the allocation it received through the American Rescue Plan to give away cash prizes every week through August 29. One lucky winner will claim the top prize of $1m.

Elsewhere, other states have also committed to their own vaccination lotteries. In May this year, the Kentucky Lottery partnered with Kroger and Walmart for a promotion offering vaccinated residents the chance to win $225,000. Later that month, the Oregon governor announced a $1m lottery guaranteeing a winner of $10,000 in each of the state’s counties.

vaccination rates failed to surpass the 50% target in Ohio

The state of Ohio has also offered its own lottery, but low vaccination rates have cast doubt on the efficacy of the scheme. Coronavirus vaccination rates failed to surpass the 50% target in Ohio despite residents having the chance to win $1m each Wednesday. The lottery ran for five weeks earlier this year.