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In newest vaccine incentive, students could receive a full ride to college

The state’s latest vaccine incentive could save future college students — and their parents — a whole lot of dough.

During a briefing Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new “Get a Shot and Make Your Future” program, which will raffle off 50 full four-year scholarships that include tuition, room and board, to SUNY, CUNY and community colleges to 12-17 year olds who get vaccinated between May 27 and July 7.

Random drawings will be held each Wednesday and those who enter will be eligible for each subsequent weekly drawing, Mr. Cuomo said. Parents or guardians of eligible children can enter their child for a chance to win at ny.gov/vaccinescholarship starting Thursday.

“It’s a significant incentive for students and an incentive for parents worried about paying tuition,” the governor said. “It’s going to be among a small population, so your odds are good.”

As a statewide push to reopen the economy continues, state officials also announced that entertainment venues including arenas, stadiums and theaters, may operate at 100% capacity for fully vaccinated people.

Venues also have the option of offering seating sections for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, which limits their capacity.

“It’s time to start human contact, social contact,” Mr. Cuomo said.

More help is also on the way for small businesses and renters experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

The governor announced another $800 million for the small business recovery grant program, which will offer up to $50,000 in grant funds small businesses can use to cover operating expenses. In addition, $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance will also be made available for struggling New Yorkers, who can apply at otda.ny.gov/erap starting June 1.

An estimated 330,000 small businesses across the state will be eligible for the grants and applications open June 10 at NYSBusinessRecovery.ny.gov.

Mr. Cuomo urged those interested to begin preparing their application information, since the grants are awarded on a first come, first serve basis. “Getting the money out into the hands of small businesses … that’s how you’re really going to see the economy come back and come back quickly,” he said.

Statewide, the COVID-19 infection rate continues to trend downward. The positivity rate is 0.7%, the lowest reported since Aug. 30. By comparison, the national positivity rate is at 2.6%, making New York one of the top three lowest states for COVID positivity. Hospitalizations are at their lowest since Nov. 3 and 17 deaths were reported Wednesday.

The vaccination rate is also slowing down, with the state reporting a 47% decline in the number of daily doses administered since April 12. “It shot up, plateaued and is now declining,” Mr. Cuomo said.

To date, there have been 18.6 million doses of the COVID vaccines given statewide and 55.5% of the adult population is now fully vaccinated.

The governor said state health officials are now prioritizing the 12-17 year old age group, which has the lowest vaccination rate since eligibility was just recently expanded.

The tuition incentive is the latest in a series of creative ways to urge people to get vaccinated. Other recent programs offered include a $5 million state lottery incentive and a free two-day pass to any state park in exchange for a shot.

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