Pandemic ‘nowhere near over’

COVID-19 Task Force continues to encourage vaccine, safety protocols

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Don Blose

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

Even after most residents and staff at Yukon’s largest senior care community receive the COVID-19 vaccine, they will remain cautious for a while.

Don Blose, CEO at Spanish Cove Retirement Village, said he hopes some programs and activities at the Cove campus can reopen and restart this spring.

“We’ll still have to be careful, for quite a long time,” said Blose, a former Oklahoma State Health Department official. “This pandemic is nowhere near over.

“It’s nice to see that we’re at the edge of a recovery, but we’re still a long, long way out there. Of course, we’re all concerned with what’s going on with the different new strains that are floating around. It’s not a time for anybody to let up, especially our older folks so I’m encouraged to see they’re getting vaccinated.”

Blose’s comments came Jan. 20, while he shared with the Yukon COVID-19 Task Force some positive trends at Spanish Cove.

Yukon’s life-care retirement community did not have a surge in confirmed virus cases as some had feared after the holidays – and all health care center staff tested negative in recent weeks.

“We’ve had two infections in independent living, and that’s been it for us,” Blose said. “I’m really thankful and I have to give a lot of credit to our residents. They’re just doing the right things.

“They’re practicing the masking, the distancing and the hygiene. It’s been incredible.”
Spanish Cove on Jan. 16 hosted its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Walgreen’s personnel provided the shots.

“We had 94% of our residents get a vaccine,” Blose reported. “After the third clinic, we’ll have 97% of our residents vaccinated.”

About 60% of the Cove’s staff received the vaccine.

Blose pointed out how few people have reported any major side effects.

A former state immunization director, Blose volunteered to participate last fall in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Second doses will be administered at Spanish Cove in early February with a third clinic planned later in the month.

“We’re already planning – in mid-March or later – to try to carefully reopen some things we’ve had restricted,” Blose shared. “Residents are really looking forward to that.

“We’ll feel comfortable that we have some herd immunity within our campus area. We’ll have to see what the federal (post-vaccination) guidance is at that point.”

Oklahoma’s front-line medical personnel, first responders and residents age 65 and above are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through local health departments.

Oklahomans may register for appointments through the state health department’s online portal at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov. People without Internet access should call the Canadian County Health Department at (405) 354-4872 or dial 211 for more information.

“We’re looking forward to the next tiers becoming vaccinated,” Blose added. “We hope the community of Yukon and the residents will take this serious and really ‘seek out’ the vaccine.”

MASKS, MASKS

COVID-19 Task Force members encourage the public to register for the vaccine and follow health and safety protocols until case numbers trend downward.

Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby was flummoxed with one new exception the City of Oklahoma City has made to its mask mandate – no longer requiring them inside City buildings.

“That made me very sad they went that way,” Selby said, matter-of-factly.

Despite Oklahoma City’s change, anyone entering a City of Yukon-owned building still must wear a mask.

Five Yukon city employees were out this week due to the virus.

“Everyone’s wearing masks and we’re still social distancing and trying to keep everyone safe,” City Manager Tammy Kretchmar said.

Meanwhile, Yukon’s mayor is noticing most people are wearing face coverings when she visits Yukon businesses. She’s pleased with the compliance here.

“There are some towns that just are not doing it,” Selby said. “And most of them are rural America, where they’re just not buying into wearing masks in large groups.

“I’m so proud of Yukon. We haven’t had a mask mandate, but people are stepping up.”

For more information about COVID-19, visit Oklahoma.gov/COVID19.

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VOLUNTEER FOR VACCINE EFFORT

The Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps (OKMRC) is seeking medical and non-medical volunteers to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts at more than 50 points of vaccine dispensing (PODs) locations statewide.

“This is a huge, unprecedented effort to vaccinate the majority of our population of nearly 4 million Oklahomans,” OKMRC state coordinator Lezlie Carter said. “We need as much help as we can get from our community to make it possible.

“When you become a volunteer with the OKMRC, you join hundreds of other citizens involved in the safety, security, health, and well-being in their communities who are ready to make a difference when help is needed most.”

Major emergencies and disasters involving injury or disease to large numbers of people can overwhelm full-time emergency response personnel. Volunteers can provide an important “surge” capacity and supplement medical and health personnel shortages.

The OKMRC helps fill these gaps with volunteers who’ve been organized, trained, and assigned to assist where their expertise is best applied.

Any Oklahoma resident or individual employed in Oklahoma can apply to be part of the OKMRC. Many members have medical training, but others have no special training prior to joining.

Possible roles for volunteers include: Vaccinator, form review, registration, traffic control, runners, assisting the elderly, sanitizing, and other duties as needed. Background checks are conducted on all volunteer applications.

For more information, or to apply, visit OKMRC.org.