CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Gov. Jim Justice presented the final cash prizes in the state’s vaccination sweepstakes Tuesday, part of a push to entice residents to get their COVID-19 shots, just as cases are again spiraling upward.
The governor presented a nearly $1.6 million check to real estate agent Wally Board of Spencer as the grand-prize winner in the lottery for vaccinated residents that began seven weeks ago.
Earlier Tuesday, Justice presented a $588,000 second-place check to Kara Waldeck of Charles Town. A pharmacy worker whose job includes administering doses of the coronavirus vaccine, Waldeck was in Charleston to help celebrate her grandfather’s birthday.
Justice handed out custom pickup trucks to Paul Swartz of Beckley and Megan Landsberg of Vienna. The state also awarded four-year college scholarships to Cheylan Cummings of Gary and Ashley Goots of Bridgeport, while other winners received lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, shotguns and hunting rifles, or weekend trips to state park lodges.
The final drawing had been postponed by a week. The state cited a system glitch that had closed the registration process early for some college scholarship hopefuls last week.
State data shows that more than 69% of residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Justice had set a goal of vaccinating 85% of residents 50 and older, a group that currently has 83% coverage. He also is close to a goal of getting 90% of those age 65 and older to receive their shots. The state has seen far less success in getting people under 30 vaccinated.
Lately, though, thousands have signed up to receive the vaccine amid the threat from the delta variant, which is now present in at least 35 of the state’s 55 counties, six more than a week ago. The number of delta variant cases increased to 161 Tuesday, up from 100 on July 31.
Coronavirus cases statewide have jumped 80% this month alone and nearly fivefold over the past month.