CHI St. Alexius Health Williston received their first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine, with three health care providers receiving the first doses.
CHI Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wayne Anderson, along with Drs. Bruce Pugatch and Curtis Small received the first does of the Moderna vaccine, which arrived at CHI around 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 22. CHI received around 300 doses of the vaccine, which will be administered to the hospital’s front-line workers.
“This is a great day.” said Pharmacy Director Dave Sandberg. “We’ve worked very hard to get to this point.”
Patient Care Services VP and CHI Chief Nurse Lorrie Antos called it a “momentous day,” applauding CHI’s staff for their continued efforts to maintain a safe community during the pandemic. Emotion in her voice, Antos shared her excitement for the vaccine and what it means for CHI and the community.
“We have worked tirelessly to protect our community and the patients we serve. I’m so proud of the staff, the providers and our team that have worked together,” she said. “Today we add another layer of safety for our patients and our staff. In immunizing our staff, allowing that extra protection, we’re also protecting our patients and the community. Like every other health care facility during this pandemic, we’re tired. We’re ready for COVID to be over, and this is the beginning. We are so grateful.”
Anderson noted that even after receiving the vaccine, it is important to continue precautionary practices such as masking, social distancing and hand-washing. The vaccine is not a cure, he stated, it is, like the flu vaccine, meant to minimize any symptoms that may occur from infection. For the foreseeable future, Anderson added, CHI would continue its restrictions on visitation, as well as maintaining its mask requirements.
Two doses of the vaccine, 28 days apart, are needed in order for the Moderna vaccine to be effective. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to have 94 to 95 percent effectiveness. Dr. Anderson stated that the general public should begin receiving the vaccine in early spring. For additional information on the distribution phases from the North Dakota Department of Health, visit www.health.nd.gov.
Both of North Dakota’s senators praised new COVID-19 relief measures passed by Congress that includes $600 payments for most Americans and $300 weekly in additional unemployment benefits.
The $900 billion deal passed Congress Monday evening, Dec. 21, and was expected to go before President Donald J. Trump for a signature on Tuesday. In a statement, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said the package had flaws but it also supported North Dakota.
“This package contains several North Dakota priorities, furthers efforts related to the development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, and extends a lifeline to our businesses and workers,” Cramer said. “While this is far from perfect, and there is more work to be done, I am glad an agreement was reached.”
In the news release, Cramer highlighted some of the bill’s provisions
$166 billion for $600 direct checks to Americans making up to $75,000, with an additional $600 per child;
$264 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including streamlined forgiveness and expanded eligibility;
$120 billion for enhanced unemployment insurance of an additional $300 per week through March 14;
$20 billion to purchase of vaccines, ensuring they will be free of charge for anyone who needs it;
$45 billion for transportation, including $10 billion for highways;
$15 billion in funding for entertainment venues, movie theaters, and museums experiencing significant revenue loss;
$10 billion for grants to childcare centers to help providers safely reopen;
$4 billion for substance abuse;
$82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist resuming with in-person learning;
$25 billion in temporary and targeted rental assistance;
Extends the eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021;
$7 billion in broadband funding, including $300 million to build out rural broadband, and $250 million for telehealth.
Sen. John Hoeven highlighted his work to include aid for farmers and ranchers in the bill.
“Given the continued challenges of this pandemic, this legislation provides targeted relief for families, small businesses and health care needs,” Hoeven said in a news release. “As the chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, I worked to ensure that the bill supports our farmers and ranchers, providing an additional $13 billion for the agriculture industry. The legislation builds on the CARES Act Congress passed earlier this year and includes another round of PPP to help our small businesses and their employees. Additionally, the legislation utilizes unspent funds from the CARES Act to provide assistance in targeted way that helps meet the challenges of this pandemic.”
The $13 billion for agriculture includes:
Support for producers of non-specialty crops by providing a payment of $20/acre. North Dakota producers are estimated to receive upwards of $360 million.
An inventory top-up payment for cattle producers to more closely align payment rates under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 1 and CFAP 2.
Funding for a grant program to allow small meat processors to make improvements to become federally inspected.
Support for producers forced to depopulate livestock due to insufficient processing capacity.
Hoeven also worked to include a provision to establish a livestock statutory dealer trust to ensure unpaid sellers of livestock are given priority in collecting receivables in the event of a dealer default.
The Williston Salvation Army has beaten its fundraising goal for its annual Red Kettle campaign.
The goal was to raise $75,000 and as of Tuesday, Dec. 22, the campaign had brought in more than $81,500.
The kettles will be out for donations until 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24.
A 31-year-old man is facing a felony charge after police say he caused the sprinkler system in the Williams County jail to go off.
Kaleb Ingraham was charged Tuesday, Dec. 22, with a class C felony count of criminal mischief. He was accused of tampering with the sprinkler head in his cell, causing flooding.
The flooding happened around 2:45 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Northwest District Court. A deputy found the entire A-pod flooded with about an inch of standing water and saw water dripping from the ceiling of one of the cells.
Ingraham was the only person in that cell when the flooding happened, charging documents state. He told the deputy he had been on the top bunk and had been touching the sprinkler head.
“Ingraham stated that he was ‘bored’ and began to ‘mess’ with the sprinkler while laying on the top bunk of the cell,” investigators wrote in the probable cause affidavit.
The total damage is estimated at $2,380.