Takoma Park Sees Surge in Vaccination Rate After Announcing Tree Removal Lottery

TAKOMA PARK, MD – Montgomery County health officials have reported a surge in the amount of people getting their first COVID-19 vaccination shots in Takoma Park a week after Mayor Kate Stewart announced a tree removal permit lottery that every vaccinated resident will be eligible to win.

“We are seeing increasing numbers in all age groups, especially those who are in the middle of a home renovation or addition,” said the Mayor. “Even though the City Arborist totally frowned on the idea, giving residents a glimmer of hope that they might be able to cut down a tree in their yard seems to be motivating folks to get vaccinated more than we had ever imagined.”

Just days after Mayor Stewart said the city would award twenty “no questions asked” tree removal permits to any resident with proof of vaccination, the Montgomery County Health Department reported a 375% week-to-week increase in the number of Takoma Park residents that received their first doses. Coincidentally, the Department of Permitting Services also saw a similar increase in the number of building permit applications from the city.

Stewart said she decided to take a chance on this incentive after seeing the success of Ohio’s $5 million dollar vaccination lottery prize. “As a small city without the ability to offer huge monetary prizes, we knew we had to offer something else substantial enough to encourage more vaccinations in Takoma Park,” said Stewart. “For some reason, we just knew that the ability to remove an old tree hanging directly over one’s million dollar home would be more valuable than cold hard cash.”

All Takoma Park homeowners who have received at least one dose of the vaccine can enter to win a tree removal permit prize. Vaccinated non-homeowners are also able to win one of several alternate prizes, including a four hour e-bike rental, first dibs on any item offered on the Buy Nothing group, or the grand prize of two additional minutes of public testimony at a city council meeting of their choice.