County launches Boost OC vaccination incentive program

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In an effort to continue COVID-19 vaccination of county residents amid climbing infections since the beginning of August, Oneida County is launching an initiative to incentivize vaccinations and help local businesses hard-hit by the pandemic, said county executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. at a Thursday press conference held at the Boilermaker Road Race headquarters in Utica.
 
As Picente spoke, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office released its daily COVID-19 statistics, noting that there were 39 virus-related deaths across the state on Wednesday and that the seven-day average infection rate was 2.75% as of Thursday afternoon.
 
Wednesday in Oneida County measured 89 new positive cases and no virus related deaths. The positivity rate is 4.6%.
 
There were 57 Oneida County residents hospitalized (37 unvaccinated/20 vaccinated) with 36 at Mohawk Valley Health System, eight at Rome Health and 13 out of the county.
 
“We’ve come through some tough times. We still have a ways to go,” Picente said.
 
To keep those numbers from a continued rise, the county announced the Boost OC vaccination incentive program that awards $100 in digital gift cards to be used at participating local businesses and organizations.
 
Picente noted that the Boilermaker and others have already signed on to participate, but the program will formally launch for residents once 100 local businesses sign on.
 
The program will issue the $100 digital gift cards through a phone app to any resident who was vaccinated after July 15, 2021. The digital gift card can then be redeemed at a variety of local participating businesses and organizations. The money cannot be directly withdrawn. 
 
Officials hope the incentive program will pay off.
 
“We are still fighting this pandemic every day and the best tool we have at our disposal is the COVID-19 vaccine,” Picente said, continuing, “Protecting our residents from this virus is crucial to reclaiming our way of life. For those who have not yet been vaccinated, I urge you to take advantage of the Boost OC program. Not only for the health and safety of yourself and loved ones, but also to help in the recovery of our local businesses and non-profits who have been devastated for nearly two years.” 
 
“The purchases made by shoppers strengthen our economy by preserving jobs and creating new jobs at our businesses, while generating important sales tax revenue,” said William Guglielmo, president of the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, continuing, “And it is important to recognize and remember that businesses are always the prime source for volunteer sponsorships and support of nonprofit events and activities. Both do so much to add to our county’s quality of life…”
 
Oneida County has partnered with Prizeout to administer the Boost OC, which utilizes federal funds the county received from the American Rescue Plan. 
 
Businesses and organizations interested in participating should visit www.BoostOC.org to create an account.
 
Eligible vaccinated residents will be contacted by the county.
New state COVID-19 info
 
On Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul launched two new webpages to provide expanded COVID-19 data. 
 
The first - https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/covid-19-variant-data - focuses on COVID-19 variants, providing public information on how we track variants, why we track variants and updated data.
 
The second - https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/covid-19-breakthrough-data-report - includes the COVID-19 Breakthrough Data Report, which displays COVID-19 breakthrough cases, hospitalizations and in-depth data over time.
 
“The breakthrough data shows that as of Sept. 20, 2021, the New York State Department of Health is aware of 78,416 laboratory-confirmed breakthrough cases of COVID-19 among fully-vaccinated people in New York State, which corresponds to 0.7% of fully-vaccinated people 12-years or older. Also, 5,555 hospitalizations with COVID-19 among fully-vaccinated people in New York State, which corresponds to 0.05% of the population of fully-vaccinated people 12-years or older,” a release reads.
COVID-19 information links
• In Oneida County, vaccine appointments and walk-ins are available at county-operated sites.
To book an appointment, visit www.ocgov.net.
• Scheduling a vaccine appointment can also be completed at: vaccines.gov.
• COVID-19 case numbers and vaccination rates are available on Oneida County’s online Dashboard at: https://bit.ly/3A85tLp
• To see COVID-19 information for Madison County, visit: https://on.ny.gov/3je8vr0
• The New York State Department of Health offers statewide information on COVID-19 at: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov

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