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Baltimore plans to offer financial incentive to city employees to get vaccinated against COVID; details still in the works

Baltimore plans to offer a financial incentive to employees to get vaccinated against the COVID-19, Mayor Brandon Scott announced Tuesday.

The program would be the latest effort from the city to get its 14,000-member workforce vaccinated, although city officials offered few details about the effort.

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During a news conference Tuesday, Scott did not answer questions about how much money would be offered to employees in exchange for being vaccinated or the deadline to receive such an incentive.

“I can’t as of yet,” Scott said when asked how the program would be funded.

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The mayor said he was speaking to the leaders of city labor unions and would release details at a later date.

City employees in Baltimore already are required to get vaccinated or face regular coronavirus testing based on a mandate that went into place in mid-October. Since then, 71% of city employees have submitted their vaccination status, according to data available Tuesday.

The city’s vaccination policy states that employees can be barred from their work sites if they do not submit their status and fail to get tested. However, the city has not yet levied penalties on employees.

Scott said previously he wanted to give employees more time to get submit their status, particularly employees who spend most of their time in the field rather than at desks behind computers.

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On Tuesday, Scott said letters have been issued to city employees warning them of the “discipline that can happen” if they are not compliant with the rule.

“They know that it’s coming,” Scott said, although he declined to say what the deadline may be for barring employees from work sites.

Neighboring jurisdictions including Anne Arundel and Frederick counties have begun offer financial incentives to their employees to get vaccinated. Anne Arundel County offered a one-time payment of $1,000 while Frederick County offered a $1,000 payment to full-time employees and $500 to part-time employees, paid for using American Rescue Plan funding.

Baltimore received $641 million from the American Rescue Plan, about half of which has been allocated thus far. If $1,000 payments were paid to the almost 10,000 employees who already have submitted their vaccination status, the program would cost the city about $10 million.

Scott said the proposed amount of the city’s incentive will be discussed with labor leaders before the final details of the program are announced.

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