At the Casper City Council meeting on Tuesday, city manager Carter Napier talked about a proposal to allow for a monetary incentive to increase the number of city employees that are vaccinated.

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Currently, the vaccination rate among Casper city employees is just over 36%, with 80 to 90% of the employees that require quarantine being unvaccinated, which has increased in the past month from around 10 from August 10 to 16 to around 45 between September 7 to 13.

Napier said there have been a total of 120 employees removed from the workplace, either due to contracting COVID, or being in contact with people that have, since the end of July.

The voluntary program would be offered from September 27 to December 31, and would cost the city an estimated $124,168, with the Casper-Natrona County Health Department offering a $100 reimbursement to the city for each person that gets vaccinated because of the program.

The plan as currently proposed has a goal of reaching 65% vaccination rate, and would provide people on the city's payroll $250 if they get vaccinated, and an additional $100 for each spouse or dependent that gets vaccinated after the program begins, and $50 if someone gets a third shoot or booster.

Employees who had gotten vaccinated before the program begins would also be eligible for the $250, which is coming from money provided by the federal government through the CARES Act.

Due to two members being absent from council on Tuesday, council members Amber Pollock and Steve Cathey, mayor Steve Freel decided against choosing one way or another on whether or not to approve the program until the full council was present.

Council members Kyle Gamroth and Ray Pacheco both spoke out in support of the program, while council member Bruce Knell and Lisa Engebretsen spoke against the program.

Pacheco said it is an issue of public health that has gotten too politicized, and that the city should address COVID in any way that it can, and he sees the vaccine incentive as a way to do that.

Knell said there are issues with the masks people wear if they aren't N95s or have a filter, and that even a fully vaccinated workplace would still interact with an unvaccinated populace, as Wyoming currently has around a 40% vaccination rate.

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