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New York City Rolls Out $100 Incentive For Getting Vaccinated As CDC Report Warns Delta Variant As Contagious As Chicken Pox

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An internal document from the CDC warns the Delta variant is changing the battle against COVID-19.

It comes as New York City ups the anti with new incentives for getting vaccinated, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported.

On Friday, the city started paying $100 to anyone who gets the shot at a city-run site.

People lined up outside the American Museum of Natural History in the morning. They said the $100 incentive is a great perk, but public pressure and concerns about the variant contributed to their decision.

"Just being around a lot of people, I just thought it's about time. It's about time, I wanted to be safe," said Diana Carrington who was getting her second dose of the vaccine.

Watch Natalie Duddridge's report --

Some New Yorkers who hesitated to get the shot said they're slowly coming around, and noted the financial incentive gave them a boost.

"That's probably half of it. But there's more to it than just that," said Jamal Ortiz, in line for his first shot. "I want to socialize with other people, take vacations, sit down at diners and eat with people. You have to be vaccinated. That's more of an incentive being vaccinated than anything."

"A hundred dollars to go get the shot, something you should've done anyway? That's like getting a get out of jail free card," said Woody Hanson.

"The hundred dollars... I've been on the fence and, honestly, I could really use the help," said Melissa Plush.

Those looking to take advantage of the $100 incentive must show proof of residence or employment in New York City. A prepaid debit card will be sent via mail or email.

President Joe Biden said Friday while Americans should expect more COVID restrictions coming soon, he was encouraged by the number of new people who got the shot this week.

"We had a good day yesterday. Almost a million people got vaccinated, about a half a million of those people for the first time," he said.

This comes as CBS News confirmed a CDC report said the Delta variant is just as contagious as chicken pox.

"What it means is that anyone who's not been vaccinated yet or not recently infected, there's a high likelihood they're going to get COVID over the next few weeks," said Dr. Peter Hotez, of Baylor College of Medicine.

The Delta variant makes up more than 70% of cases in New York and New Jersey.

The study also found vaccinated people are just as likely to transmit Delta as the unvaccinated.

"Vaccinated people who ultimately get infected, that they are generally without symptoms or minimally symptomatic. However, it is clear that they are capable of transmitting the infection to uninfected individuals," said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

New data shows 35,000 vaccinated people per week are coming down with what's known as breakthrough infections, but that's out of the more than 164 million who are vaccinated, so it's still a very small number -- .02%.

As CBS2's Jessica Layton reports, experts like the research scientists at a lab in Nutley, New Jersey, who are carefully studying COVID-19 say fully vaccinated people still only account for a fraction of hospitalizations.

Watch Jessica Layton's report --

The CDC report noted fully vaccinated people account for less than 9% of COVID-19 hospitalizations nationally. Health officials said the vaccine remains the best defense against serious illness or death.

"The vaccines are amazing. We're lucky to have vaccines this good. That should be, I think, everyone's priority," a New Yorker told Duddridge.

"What the vaccine's doing, and what the vaccine was supposed to do, much like a flu vaccine, is preventing serious illness. It doesn't mean that you can't be an asymptomatic carrier, which really complicates the question about masking," said Dr. Barry Kreiswirth, a research scientist at the Center for Discovery and Innovation.

The CDC has recommended universal masking, but Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to announce a mandate.

"The main event is vaccination. Masks can be helpful. We're going to delineate to New Yorkers the best way to use masks. They don't change the basic reality, vaccination does," de Blasio said.


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he's also taking a wait-and-see approach.

"We were the first state in the country to mandate indoor masks and we were the last state to have that mandate in place. So we've done it before and if we need to, we'll do it again," Murphy said.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has signed an executive order requiring all municipal employees to get vaccinated by Aug. 9 or submit to weekly testing. Those who are not fully vaccinated will also have to wear a face covering while working indoors and when interacting with the public.

In Connecticut, the Department of Health is asking residents in counties with high COVID transmission rates to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

The CDC has reported a substantial level of community transmission in Hartford, New London, New Haven, Fairfield, Windham and Tolland counties.

While mask usage is being encouraged, so far, there has been no official action on the state or local level.


"If mask mandates come back, I would definitely oblige," said Christina Aiello. "But it really is taking a step back, so I would hope that more people would take an opportunity to get vaccinated at this point."

Last week, de Blasio mandated city workers get vaccinated for tested weekly.

"My job is requiring us, and recommending that we do be vaccinated," said Jo Reid from the Upper West Side.

Dr. Fauci said he believes more and more private employers will require proof of vaccination, but that there will not be a national mandate.

Also on Friday, Broadway theaters announced vaccine and mask requirements will be enforced through October.

CBS2's Jessica Layton and Christina Fan contributed to this report.

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