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Grand Forks City Council told that injections pick up pace in Grand Forks County

The goal is to get 60% of the county's population vaccinated, according to Deborah Swanson, who directs Grand Forks Public Health.

Altru photo
Laura Barclay, NICU Respiratory Care Supervisor at Altru, left, and Jennifer Sertich, RN manager, give a thumbs up after Barclay received the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 16. (Cassandra Van Dell/Altru Health System)

Grand Forks County, working in conjunction with Altru Health System, is administering vaccines as soon as they are received, according to Deborah Swanson, who directs Grand Forks Public Health, noting the vaccination process was moving forward in a productive fashion. The goal is to attain a 60% vaccination rate for the population in Grand Forks County.

At this time, those 75 years and older are being given priority.

"The only threat right now is that we could use more vaccine," Swanson told the Grand Forks City Council during its Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Jan. 25. "Things may start to improve with additional manufacturing."

The Health Department is tracking variants of COVID-19, including those first identified in Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil. Swanson said early indications are that none of the variants is more lethal, but they do transmit more easily from one individual to another. At this point, vaccines appear to be effective against all of the variants, she said.

Thus far, Grand Forks County's two-dose vaccination rate is at 2.4%. The state average is at 1.8%.

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In other business at Monday's meeting:

-- The council voted to lend a letter of support to Prairie Rose Mental Health as it faces a potential cut of $1.4 million from the state for the 2021-2023 biennium. "This budget cut came to us as a surprise," said Deb Johnson, CEO of the nonprofit, which has been operating in Grand Fork since 1992. As many as 42 units with 100 mentally ill individuals could be affected. "We will fight the fight."

-- Approval was given for the transfer of a liquor license from El Roco Bar and Grill to The Rock Bottleshop. The license would be changed from Class 1 to Class 2, meaning it would be transferred as on off-sale license only, rather than on-site and off-sale. El Roco will close on Saturday, Jan. 30. Ownership of the bar will host a final party then to let patrons have a last drink and say goodbye to the iconic Grand Forks nightclub.

-- Of the Prairie Dog Funds received from the state coffers for the biennium, $2.5 million will be transferred from 2020 to 2021 to be used on various road projects.

-- Finally, light signals are slated to replace the four stop signs at the intersection of 47th Avenue South and South 20th Street. The change is an effort to make that intersection more safe to pedestrians.

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