Low COVID vacc rates
Low COVID vaccination rates are concerning to Hubbard County health officials. Only about 35 percent of residents age 16 and older are fully vaccinated, compared to 50 percent in Wadena County, 52 in Cass, 56 in Becker and 58 in Beltrami County. The overall rate for the state is 67.5 percent.
There are many reasons people don’t get vaccinated, says Dr. Michelle Thieman at Essentia Health, but most are not based on science. Thieman urges people who have already tested positive for COVID to still get vaccinated because their immunity may only last 90 days. She’s also concerned about more contagious Gamma and Delta variants. Gamma (Brazilian) has been detected in Hubbard County, while Delta has not yet been detected. (Park Rapids Enterprise)
Canada re-opens Aug. 9
Starting Aug. 9, fully-vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents can travel to Canada again. This includes Minnesotans who live in the Northwest Angle who have been cut off from the rest of the state for more than a year.
Non-essential travel to Canada has been banned since March 2020. Other travelers had to observe a 14-day quarantine. The quarantine period will be waived once US travelers have received a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson). Fully vaccinated residents of other countries may enter Canada starting Sept. 7. (Bring Me the News)
Stormwater tunnel restored
A century old brick stormwater tunnel in St. Cloud will be restored to stabilize a 40-foot ravine that cuts through the downtown area, and to provide critical habitat for bats whose population is declining.
The city received a $2.3 million hazard mitigation grant from FEMA to address erosion from heavy rainfalls that create safety concerns to properties and people. Northern long-eared bats also use the tunnel for hibernation. Due to the sometimes fatal fungal disease, white nose syndrome, their populations have declined dramatically. Design work will start this winter with construction next spring. No work will be done between November and April when bats are hibernating. (MPR News)