Cash incentives for vaccination have little impact

While politicians at all levels have praised cash incentives, research has shown that this strategy has little impact on actually convincing Americans to get vaccinated. A recent investigation I worked on (at the Documenting COVID-19 project and the Missouri Independent) provides new evidence for this trend: the state of Missouri allocated $11 million for gift cards that residents could get upon receiving their first or second vaccine dose, but the vast majority of local health departments opted not to participate in the program—and a very small number of gift cards have been distributed thus far.

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National numbers, December 5

Don’t be fooled by the apparent case decline in the CDC’s numbers: the U.S. is still in the midst of a new surge. The agency reported fewer cases last week due to Thanksgiving holiday delays, but we can expect cases to shoot up next week as delayed cases are added to the data.

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Omicron variant: What we know, what we don’t, and why not to panic (yet)

On Thanksgiving, my Twitter feed was dominated not by food photos, but by news of a novel coronavirus variant identified in South Africa earlier this week. While the variant—now called Omicron, or B.1.1.529—likely didn’t originate in South Africa, data from the country’s comprehensive surveillance system provided enough evidence to suggest that this variant could be more contagious than Delta, as well as potentially more able to evade human immune systems.

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