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Uber, Lyft Will Give Free Rides to Vaccine Sites, Biden Says


President Biden said on Tuesday that Uber and Lyft, two of the country’s largest ride-sharing services, would provide free rides to vaccination sites beginning May 24, an agreement intended to help him reach his goal of getting 160 million adults fully vaccinated by July 4.

Mr. Biden said that the ride-sharing initiative would last until then.

In a meeting with a group of six governors from states including Ohio, Utah and Maine, he detailed other initiatives as well, including an effort to create vaccination sites at community colleges and another to send FEMA officials around the country to encourage residents to receive a shot. The announcement marked an aggressive new phase of the administration’s efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy and expand access.

“We’re going to be able to take a serious step toward return to normalcy by Independence Day,” Mr. Biden said, referring to a benchmark he set in March. “And there’s a lot of work to do though to get there. But I believe we can get there.”

Though about 152 million people had received at least one vaccine shot in the United States as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the pace of vaccination has slowed in recent weeks.

Experts say they had expected the slowdown, but vaccine reluctance — in part stemming from an 11-day pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine — will remain a significant obstacle. Only a small percentage of Americans who have not yet been vaccinated say they will definitely do so, according to recent polls.

To encourage more shots in arms, some governors, including Jim Justice of West Virginia, have started to experiment with incentives that could sway reluctant or disinterested Americans: Last month, Mr. Justice said the state would give $100 savings bonds to young people who get vaccinated, though officials are still trying to work out the details of the program. In New York, officials are offering free rail and subway tickets with vaccinations.

The governors who met virtually with the president on Tuesday had ideas of their own. Gov. Janet Mills of Maine told Mr. Biden that the state would offer vouchers to L.L. Bean, free fishing and hunting licenses, and tickets to local sporting events as incentives.

“We’re calling this ‘your shot to get outdoors,’” Ms. Mills said. “Oh, it’s corny, I know, but we know that people in Maine found refuge in relief and Mother Nature throughout the pandemic.”

Mr. Biden seemed amused by the idea, replying, “My guess is that’s probably going to work.”

Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said that the Ohio National Guard had set up small vaccination stations at nursing homes around the state. Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah said that pop-up clinics were appearing at churches and that health officials were working with clergy members to communicate information about the vaccines to congregants.

Mr. Cox also praised the move by the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old: “Mr. President, we’re really good at having kids here, so we’re excited to have that opportunity,” he said.

In New York, officials are looking even further afield for potential takers for their allotments of doses. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday that the state was waiving residency requirements for vaccination in New York City, meaning tourists from around the country and world could come and get vaccinated for free.

The move was first pitched by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a way to increase tourism, and a vaccine pop-up clinic in Times Square is already serving tourists. Other sites in places popular with tourists are expected to follow.

“We had historic levels of tourism before the pandemic, as many as 67 million tourists in a single year,” Mr. de Blasio said Tuesday. “We want that to come back and I think rolling out the red carpet, welcoming people back, saying if you need to be vaccinated, we want to help you out, is just a smart thing to do.”



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