Covid

A group of students sit during class wearing masks due to the mask mandate put in by Northwest.

Half of Northwest students and 66% of employees have shared that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with University Wellness ahead of the last incentive drawing Oct. 1. 

“That is encouraging. We’re hoping to get students higher as well,” Lt. Amanda Cullin said of employee vaccination rates.

Cullin, a member of the Crisis Response Team 2, said the team is continuing to evaluate whether more incentive drawings or other incentive alternatives will be used in the future. For example, CRT 2 is aware that MIAA counterpart Central Oklahoma is offering days off to students if they hit certain vaccine benchmarks as an incentive.

Northwest will be giving out $39,000 in scholarships and organization funding — $35,000 of which will be for individual scholarships — during its fourth and final planned drawing. CRT 2 will continue to look at holistic data from the University, Nodaway County and surrounding communities and higher education institutions to reevaluate incentive programs and mitigation efforts at Northwest.

Nodaway County’s vaccination rates continue to creep up with a seven-day average of 26 doses administered per day as of Sept. 28 — a rate that is comparable to those at the beginning of June in Nodaway County. Nodaway County Health Center Administrator Tom Patterson said the rate is down slightly from recent weeks but that he is still encouraged by the number of residents initiating and completing their vaccinations.

The County is still behind the state vaccination rate with 45% of Nodaway County residents fully vaccinated, compared with 47.6% of total Missouri residents.

The Food and Drug Administration grantedemergency approval for booster doses of Pfizer Sept. 22 for certain populations, including the immune-compromised. Moderna is expected to be granted emergency approval for its own booster in the next few weeks, and boosters are expected to be made available for more populations in the near future.

 

“I would guess that the demand is high enough that you would see similar vaccine efforts that you saw in the spring,” Patterson said of local booster administration.

The Nodaway County Health Department partnered with Mosaic - Maryville and Northwest to host mass vaccination clinics in the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse from January to May. Almost 700 COVID-19 vaccine doses were given out at the first clinic Jan. 26.

President of Mosaic - Maryville Nate Blackford said the hospital is in a “holding pattern” waiting for further guidance on booster shots from state and national authorities. Blackford, Patterson and Cullin all said they are awaiting further information on the executive order issued by President Joe Biden’s administrationmandating vaccines for employers with over 100 employees and for organizations receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. 

The order initially set a deadline of November for the mandate.

Current COVID-19 case counts continue to remain “pretty flat” in Nodaway County, Blackford said. The seven-day rolling average for positive cases in the county was six Sept. 26 and was five a week prior.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have remained consistent at Mosaic in recent weeks. Blackford said the system is averaging a total number of hospitalizations in the mid to upper 20s, with one to three cases at Maryville.

Both Blackford and Patterson said they were still concerned with the number of cases among children in recent weeks. The middle of September represented a significant spike in cases among children ages five to 14, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“I think a lot of my concern, if you will, is if there’s a third significant variant; will it have a larger impact on children?” Blackford said. “That’s just what viruses do. They typically morph and become more severe.”

“To see an increase in cases in that age group is troubling,” Patterson said.

Pfizer recently submitted trial data to the FDA and is seeking emergency approval for a version of its vaccine for children ages five to 11. 

Northwest has seen a recent reduction in COVID-19 cases, with the number of positive cases dropping below double digits this past week.

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