Maryland held its first of 40 consecutive $40,000 lottery drawings on Tuesday for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, one of several states using lottery prizes to encourage people to get inoculated.
The Maryland Lottery said the first winner lives in Baltimore County. Maryland law allows lottery winners to remain anonymous. There will be 39 more drawings for $40,000 in the $2 million total promotion, which ends with a $400,000 drawing prize on July 4.
The Maryland drawings are being done with a computer program that randomly selects a number from within the range of numbers provided to the lottery by Maryland's health department. To be eligible, a participant must be a resident who is 18 and over who has received a vaccine shot in Maryland.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 68.3% of Maryland adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Larry Hogan is hoping to reach 70% by Memorial Day.
“Congratulations to the first winner of our $40,000 VaxCash lottery drawing!” Hogan wrote on Twitter with a flurry of video balloons and noting a website for people to schedule appointments.
When Hogan announced the promotion last week, he said the aim is to get shots into the arms of reluctant residents or those who just haven't thought about getting vaccinated.
The Hogan administration highlighted health metrics Tuesday that continue to improve. Maryland’s statewide COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped below 2% for the first time during the pandemic. The state is reporting 160 new confirmed cases — the lowest number since March 26, 2020.
Hospitalizations from the virus reached a seven-month low with 442 — the lowest level since Oct. 19.
Several other states also are holding lottery promotions to encourage people to get vaccinated, including New York, Ohio and Oregon. The Kentucky Lottery gave out coupons for a free lottery ticket to adults who received a shot at Kroger or Walmart.
On Monday, New York started a promotion that gives a free scratch-off ticket to residents vaccinated at state-run mass vaccination sites there that could be worth up to $5 million.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday that nearly 2.8 million Ohio residents have registered for the state's Vax-a-Million vaccination incentive program, with participants hoping to win either the $1 million prize for adults or a full-ride college scholarship for children. The winners will be announced Wednesday night.
Oregonians 18 and older will have the chance to win $1 million or one of 36 $10,000 prizes, with one winner in each county. Residents age 12 to 17 will have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships. The drawing in Oregon will take place June 28.