North Dakota has been selected as one of four states to be part of a pilot project to plan for a COVID-19 vaccination program.

The news was announced Monday, Aug. 10 by Gov. Doug Burgum and the North Dakota Department of Health. It came on the same day as North Dakota’s seventh record day for active COVID-19 cases in August. North Dakota was selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

NDDoH reiterated Tuesday, Aug. 11 that the pilot project is not a vaccine trial.

"North Dakota was selected because of the strength of our immunization program,” NDDoH Immunization Program Manager Molly Howell said. "Our teams have been working for weeks on a plan and we’re thrilled to supplement that work with this partnership with the CDC and the Department of Defense to plan and prepare for the COVID-19 vaccination response in North Dakota."

Meetings will kick off this week in Bismarck, North Dakota, Burgum’s office announced. The CDC is reportedly interested in exploring strategies to reach American Indian populations and help determine opportunities as they relate to vaccine planning and distribution.

“When a vaccine becomes available, the federal government will provide general guidance on how to prioritize and distribute the vaccine,” Burgum’s office stated. “Howell said her team and other partners will take that broad guidance and implement it in North Dakota.”

One of the responsibilities of the NDDoH, the department stated, is to develop and implement plans and methods for getting medications to people as effectively and efficiently as possible in case of a pandemic.

"Topics to be discussed during the pilot project with CDC include how a vaccine shipment gets to North Dakota, how it’s transported within the state, how it’s stored and inventoried, how it’s transported at the proper temperature so it doesn't spoil and who administers it," NDDoH stated. "(We are) working to fine tune existing plans to ensure a successful rollout to the public."

No new COVID-19 cases in Richland County, North Dakota were confirmed Monday by NDDoH. Updated information on the number of local active cases, recoveries and tested unique individuals was not immediately available.

“The state of North Dakota is reporting 117 new COVID-19 cases, 79 new recoveries, 113 deaths (one new) and 1,166 active cases,” Daily News reported Monday morning. “The deceased was a woman between ages 70-79 from Stutsman County, North Dakota. She had underlying health conditions, NDDoH reported.”

As of Monday, North Dakota’s cumulative positive COVID-19 cases were 7,713 total. The cumulative COVID-19 recoveries were 6,434 total.

That same day, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced applications for the Economic Resilience Grant (ERG) program are scheduled to be available beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12.

“I am pleased to announce the opening of the Economic Resiliency Grant for North Dakota businesses on Wednesday,” Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer said. “We look forward to assisting businesses in making infection-control improvements to inspire customers to return to the marketplace – safely. I encourage eligible businesses to pursue this opportunity to help create a resilient economy.”

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Funding will be approved if the application meets all criteria and funding is available.

“Eligible applicants may qualify to receive grant funding up to $50,000 per business and up to $100,000 per business with multiple locations for direct investments that help create a safe environment for both employees and consumers,” the commerce department stated.

Also on Monday, Burgum announced that all renewals for North Dakota drivers licenses which expired on or after March 1, 2020, have been extended and will follow a phased schedule.

“The deadline for vehicle registrations remains Aug. 31, 2020,” the governor’s office stated.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will continue to serve citizens by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, visit dot.nd.gov or call 1.855-633-6835.

“The latest extension is necessary for the Department of Transportation to meet customer demand and allow citizens of North Dakota to legally operate their vehicles,” said Robin Rehborg, NDDOT deputy director for driver safety. “We ask for your patience as we continue to work through this backlog while providing the safest possible experience for our customers.”

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