Holiday Gatherings Still Discouraged Even As A Vaccine Nears Approval

More than 50% of the total COVID-19 cases in the county since March were reported last month.

DULUTH, Minn. – A Coronavirus vaccine could be available in the Northland within the next few weeks.

Although a treatment is on the way health officials are still urging the community to avoid holiday gatherings to help slow surges in COVID-19 cases.

Demand for a Coronavirus vaccine in the northland is expected to be far greater than the doses available.

Due to the limited supply health professionals say not everyone will get a vaccine right away.

This fall, St. Louis County has seen a sharp increase in the number of Coronavirus cases.

“November was tough. Hopefully, December doesn’t follow as closely with November numbers. We are really going to have to watch that, ” said Amy Westbrook, the public health director for St. Louis County.

More than 50% of total cases in the county since March were reported last month.

This amounts to about 200 cases per day.

“We have had a very challenging month as a community over this last month,” said Westbrook.

Case numbers have dropped slightly over the last few days, but during the holidays, health experts are still worried another spike could happen.

“Since the spread COVID-19 remains very high in our community I wanted to share this reminder and ask you to please forego holiday gatherings with your loved ones this year,” said Nicolas Van Deelan, the co-president and CEO of St. Luke’s Hospital.

Two new vaccines are on the verge of being approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency distribution.

“We’re hoping that most people will have the opportunity to be vaccinated before the fall of 2021,” said Jon Pryor, the president of Essentia Health.

Unfortunately, an exact timeline for availability is uncertain due to the limited supply.

Once a vaccine is officially approved and arrives in the Northland, it will be given out in phases.

“After frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, preference will be given essential workers such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters,” said Pryor.

It will be some time before the masses can have access a COVID-19 vaccine.

Health officials are still encouraging everyone to continue following safety guidelines until that happens.

“If you could do just your part to stop the spread now life will become better soon,” said Pryor.

Hospital capacities remain tight.

As of Wednesday, there were only 23 ICU beds available across Minnesota.

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