Transitioning “back to normal” as vaccinations continue to increase in our region

FARGO, N.D. — This week, Sanford Health is getting its biggest shipment of COVID-19 vaccines thus far.

Sanford Health Vice President Dr. Doug Griffin says the healthcare system is receiving around 5,000 doses between North Dakota and Minnesota.

As of Tuesday, 14% of North Dakotans and 13% percent of Minnesotans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “Looking forward to another busy week next week,” commented Griffin.

As immunizations continue to grow, he says we are inching closer to a point where vaccines will be available to everyone.

“I think I’m going to guess sometime in April in North Dakota we’ll be to that point,” Griffin added.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has also said he will expand vaccine eligibility to all Minnesotans before May.

But as we get closer and closer to that point, what does safely resuming a normal lifestyle look like?

“There are many individuals in North Dakota that have been living really isolated for the past year,” said North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division Director Pamela Sagness. “There’s just so many different experiences. The most important thing is being flexible, understanding, being supportive, and really having empathy.”

She says taking small steps toward normalcy is key.

“First and foremost, trust your instincts and do what feels comfortable at first, [even if] that’s something small. If you haven’t been in a store for the past year, for example, maybe visit a small, local shop that’s your favorite place to go prior to the pandemic, at a time when you know that they’re not busy.”

Sagness adds support and guidance is available for those experiencing stress, anxiety and other emotions during this transition.

“For many people, this will be a new normal that will be different,” she said.

The Behavioral Health Division’s website includes resources for North Dakotans. There is information about free virtual support groups, how to locate addiction or mental health treatment services and other resources.

Other available supports include Project Renew, which offers free and anonymous counseling from trained professionals. You can call Project Renew at 701-223-1510. If someone is having thoughts of suicide or is concerned about a loved one, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Find resources for Minnesotans coping with COVID-19 by visiting the Department of Human Services website.

Minnesotans experiencing a mental health crisis can call **CRISIS (274747) or text “MN” to 741741.

Categories: Coronavirus, Health, Local News