The St. Louis County Council last month approved spending $875,000 in the county’s federal pandemic aid to distribute gift cards, likely to be $50 and $100, to be used on food and other necessary household items.
Missouri state officials also are considering offering incentives; various other states, including Illinois, already do so.
Reed’s bill, at Jones’ request, already includes money for other efforts to spur COVID inoculations, including $1 million for mobile vaccination clinics, $500,000 for canvassing and $500,000 for vaccine education and marketing.
Four aldermen interviewed said they had expected the pandemic aid bill to be the subject of a lengthy debate at Friday’s meeting and were taken aback when it wasn’t taken up.
“It was a giant surprise,” said Alderman Joe Vaccaro, 23rd Ward. He said he didn’t know the reason.
Despite Reed’s statement to the contrary, Alderman Megan Green, 15th Ward, speculated that Reed was still rounding up votes to defeat a possible amendment to add the $500 direct-payment program requested by Jones.
Aldermen Sharon Tyus, 1st Ward, and Carol Howard, 14th Ward, also said they were surprised by the decision.