Denver poised to give belated incentives for COVID vaccinations

·2 min read

Mayor Michael Hancock may have his way after all.

What's happening: City employees who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or received an exemption could soon receive bonuses for complying with the Hancock administration's vaccine mandate.

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The Denver City Council is expected to approve the plan Monday night — though narrowly — council members tell Axios.

Why it matters: After twice delaying a vote to advance Hancock's proposal, based on a number of concerns, city council members have ultimately bowed to his wishes, proving the mayor's might.

Details: Pending council approval, the proposal pulls $5 million from the city budget to provide $400 bonuses in November to more than 7,000 vaccinated employees who got their shots by the Hancock administration's Sept. 30 deadline.

  • It would also give $400 bonuses to the 650-plus employees who received exemptions — so long as they don't violate the city's public health order through Dec. 10, including mask wearing and regular COVID testing at work.

  • The bonuses will be available for full-time, part-time, uniformed and on-call employees at the end of the year.

  • The mayor, city council members and staffers who worked from home aren't eligible.

What else: Under the latest proposal, council will allocating $8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to give up to $2,500 to city workers who served in-person on the frontlines, before COVID-19 vaccines were available.

  • Those eligible include police officers and firefighters.

Catch up quick: Council members slammed the braked when the proposal first came up at a Sept. 14 committee meeting and it was revealed that the mayor's plan was publicly proposed without any prior notice to them.

  • They also raised questions about whether city workers who dodged the vaccine by obtaining a religious exemption should be recognized and compensated.

  • The mayor's office was ultimately responsive to council members concerns, incorporating a provision that vaccine-exempt employees need to comply with Denver public-health orders related to mask wearing and testing through Dec. 10 to get paid.

The big picture: Other cities in Colorado have enacted similar rewards programs for their workforce.

  • Aurora paid police and fire personnel roughly $200 per pay period in hazard pay for work between March and November last year, totaling $2.6 million, 9News reports.

  • Lakewood compensated more than 400 employees for two months of hazard pay, worth $212,000.

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