• A new stimulus bill proposal calls for linking the issuance of new stimulus checks to whether or not people get vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • The stimulus proposal from former congressman John Delaney suggests paying people $1,500 in exchange for getting a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows that more than 276,000 COVID-19 deaths have been reported so far.

Two of the most pressing issues facing US leaders at the moment involve the national economy (specifically, the passage of a new stimulus bill that possibly includes another round of stimulus checks) and public health (getting as many people vaccinated for COVID-19 as safely and as quickly as possible).

On the surface, those twin ambitions might sound disconnected from each other. But, increasingly, there’s talk among national lawmakers about linking them together, using the one to drive adoption of the other. We mentioned just a few days ago that this idea of paying people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 has picked up support from people like former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, as well as N. Gregory Mankiw, who was a top economic advisor to President George W. Bush. And now, someone else has upped the ante. Whereas some of the talk along these lines had been to give people $1,000 for taking the COVID vaccine, entrepreneur John Delaney, a former Democratic congressman from Maryland who also ran for president this year, thinks we should pay people at least $1,500 for getting vaccinated.

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“The faster we get 75% of this country vaccinated, the faster we end COVID and the sooner everything returns to normal,” Delaney said in an interview with CNBC.

Plans like this are an attempt to respond to the fact that polls are starting to show acceptance of the vaccine becoming a political issue. “We have to create, in my judgment, an incentive for people to really accelerate their thinking about taking the vaccine,” Delaney said.

Of course, this is a bit easier said than done. Congress is still mired in a protracted, months-long stalemate over the passage of a new stimulus bill, with Democrats in favor of a $900 billion proposal while top Republicans don’t want to go higher than $500 billion. And you’ve still got to add another $380 billion, at least, on top of those proposals — that’s how much Delaney estimates it would cost to send $1,500 checks to Americans in exchange for getting their COVID-19 vaccination.

“If you can only spend $400 billion, this is what you should spend it on,” Delaney said during his interview.

The need for a motivating factor like this is certainly acute right now. The coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate at a frightening pace in the US, with the latest data from Johns Hopkins University showing that there have been more than 14.1 million cases of COVID-19 identified in the US so far, along with more than 276,000 reported coronavirus deaths.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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