With a 4-1 vote, the Richland County Board of Commissioners officially lifted the county’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Further declarations could be issued or the previous declaration could be reinstated, the commissioners acknowledged following their Tuesday, Sept. 21 vote. Commissioner Tim Campbell gave the dissenting vote.

Richland County confirmed three new and 24 active COVID-19 cases Friday, Sept. 24. As of Friday, Richland County had 2,236 total COVID-19 cases, 2,193 recoveries and 19 deaths.

North Dakota’s COVID-19 emergency declaration was lifted on April 30, 2021, News Monitor previously reported. The declaration had been in effect since March 2020.

“Lifting this emergency declaration on April 30 recognizes the tremendous progress our state has made in protecting the most vulnerable, preserving hospital capacity and making safe, effective vaccines available to every eligible North Dakotan,” Gov. Doug Burgum stated previously.

The Richland County Health Department, Wahpeton, continues to strongly recommend that anyone ages 12 and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Friday, 58 percent of eligible Richland County residents were confirmed as having completed their primary vaccination series.

Herd immunity, News Monitor previously reported, occurs when at least 70 percent of a population is protected. When this happens, according to the Mayo Clinic, the full community is considered protected.

“If you would like to schedule a vaccination or have questions about vaccine, please call us at 701-642-7735,” Richland County Public Health Director Kayla Carlson said previously. “You may also register for a vaccination clinic at www.ndvax.org.”

The commissioners’ vote to lift the emergency declaration came amid increased attention to the health department’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In Richland County, we still have a high level of transmission, (along with) much of the state,” Carlson said Sept. 21. “We’re still seeing a significant amount of spread and quite a few cases with younger individuals including children.”

Richland County Public Health is also renewing vaccination efforts against the common flu, Carlson said. The department was among those statewide waiting for North Dakota’s recommendation on COVID-19 vaccine booster doses.

“People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer primary series,” the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) stated Friday. “People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series.”

Recommendations were made only for those who originally received the two-dose series of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the state department clarified. Booster doses might be recommended in the future for those who received COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Moderna or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). There is not yet data available to recommend mixing vaccine brands or to recommend additional doses of Moderna or Janssen vaccine. 

“People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks,” NDDoH stated. “People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.”

The commissioners’ next regularly-scheduled meeting will be at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5 at the Richland County Courthouse, Wahpeton.

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