West Memphis offering city employees $200 to get vaccinated
Get the shot, get $200.
That’s the incentive the city of West Memphis is offering to city employees.
Mayor Marco McClendon has been aggressive in leading his city’s fight against COVID-19 since the earliest days of the pandemic. First, he was on Facebook and in the local print and TV news urging everyone last spring to abide by CDC guidelines and protocols such as social distancing and sheltering in place. Many will recall how McClendon’s blunt message to residents to “Stay your ass at home” made national news sites online.
Now, he wants everyone to take the COVID-19 vaccine and it appears, when it comes to municipal employees, he’s willing to put the city’s money where his mouth is in the name of public safety.
The mayor says part of the reason to offer the money was to reward those who are vaccinated and incentivize those still on the fence.
McClendon and the city council signed off on the payments. If everyone gets the shot, that’s around 400 city employees, for a total of $80,000.
McClendon says the money doesn’t come from any direct West Memphis funds.
“This money is coming from the Rescue Act funds that we have got from the federal government, and they’re encouraging us to do things like this,” McClendon said.
He noted that he was aware that the expense might raise some eyebrows from tyaxpayers, but McClendon was quick to defend the more, offering a question to those irked by how the relief funds were being spent.
“Would you rather use that to encourage people to be vaccinated, or would you rather for them not to be vaccinated, and when our sanitation department gets sick from, let’s say, the Delta variant and can’t pick up your trash for two weeks or you need the police and they can’t come because they’re all out because they’re sick?”
McClendon’s move was influenced heavily on what he says he witnessed firsthand at the height of the pandemic, before the vaccine was available. He saw the virus affect staffing and city services.
West Memphis has already
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provided vaccine clinics for employees. While numbers for how many employees are unvaccinated wasn’t available, McClendon says he’s talked to staff — once uneasy — who now plan to get vaccinated.
“You have to make people feel comfortable,” he said.
“I’ve been vaccinated. I let them know, I’m fine. You know one thing I have to say is that, there’s zero people that I can name that have died from the vaccine. Whereas there are 700,000 people that have died from COVID. I think COVID is what you need to be worried
Lane believes this incentive will make a difference.
” I am excited to see this going forward and more people getting vaccinated so we can get back to a sense of normalcy,” she said.
McClendon said he hopes this plan will encourage other businesses and governments to offer similar incentives.
Another death this week brought the cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths in Crittenden County to 112. Another 36 confirmed cases on Wednesday took the total number of local cases since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to 7,863.