PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- In Monday night's Pueblo City Council meeting, Mayor Nick Gradisar proposed a $500 incentive for city employees to get the vaccine by September 15th.
The Mayor says this is in response to rising rates of COVID-19 infections in Pueblo. According to the Mayor, there have been 91 reported COVID-19 cases in the last seven days, an increase from 20 reported cases three weeks ago.
The vaccination incentive would be paid for by ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. The City of Pueblo was given $36.7 million dollars by the federal government. The funds must be used by December 31st, 2024.
"It's going to be funded by our ARPA dollars, the federal money that we got. It's going to cost us around $523 thousand dollars," Mayor Gradisar said.
The vaccine incentive plan would join other plans created to increase vaccination rates in Pueblo and the state of Colorado. Three months ago, the City of Pueblo created the $1 million dollar reading challenge.
This program was an incentive for kids in Pueblo to receive $100 if they read 10 books from Pueblo libraries. This program was paid for by ARPA funds as well.
These vaccine incentive programs are created solely to increase vaccination rates in Pueblo.
"With this new variant out there, it's obviously very important to get everyone vaccinated, and we want to start with city employees," Mayor Gradisar said.
He added, "If you are not vaccinated, you are going to get coronavirus. And if you get coronavirus, you are not going to be able to work. You can't be around people. You can't be around the public. It cuts our productivity down when we have ill employees or people that perhaps have to quarantine."
Also, Mayor Gradisar urges people not to wait to get vaccinated. Even if further incentives are offered to citizens down the line.
"I would say don't wait. The best reward is that you won't get sick or get seriously ill, and you are getting a vaccine that will hopefully keep you out of the hospital and prevent you from dying," Mayor Gradisar said.
The Pueblo City Council will vote on this vaccine incentive program during their biweekly meeting on Monday, August 23rd.