Additional information about COVID from Indian Health Services

Additional information about COVID from IHS:

I’d like to provide an update on COVID-19.  As you are aware, cases of COVID are surging across the country, as depicted in the graph below from the CDC:

One June 19th the average daily cases in the United States was 11,479 cases.  As of today, that average is at 90,000 cases per day, nearly a 9 fold increase in a month and half.  This can be directly attributed to the delta variant, which is much more contagious than the original virus.   This is once again beginning to strain our health systems.  Front line workers are burnt out, the last 18 months has been a relentless battle to control a novel virus.  All of 2020, minus 2 weeks, was spent without an available vaccine, which left us defending the virus with masks, PPE and social distancing.  We are now 8 months into vaccine availability, yet we find ourselves still trying to make sense of new masking guidance and potential vaccine mandates.  All of this at a time when many of us will be sending our children back to school in the coming weeks.  What I want to stress is this: we don’t have to be here.  This is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated.  The vaccine is saving lives.  It’s true that there are break through cases, but it’s also true those people aren’t dying or needing hospitalization.  Even if you have had the virus previously, the CDC recommends you still get the vaccine. 


Early in 2021 the Bemidji Area as a whole saw a steady growth of daily vaccines administered, peaking at 1,550 doses/day on March 24th between all of the I/T/U sites.  As of today, the number of combined vaccine doses being administered across our region (from Michigan to Minnesota) is 75.    The chart below illustrates this:

Like much of America, there has been a plateau.  Of all people who are eligible for the vaccine (12 and older) 58.4% are fully vaccinated.  That leaves 42% of those eligible in the United States unprotected from a virus that has killed 612,958 Americans.  On July 10th, 174 Americans were dying per day, the lowest number since the beginning of the pandemic.  As of today, that number is 377, and climbing.  We all have a role to play to bring an end to this pandemic.  It is our job to educate those around us and ensure vaccine is widely available.  There is no shortage of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, Tribes and Urban programs can order as needed.


Here are the key “What You Need to Know” bullets from the CDC:


  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death.
  • COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • You may have side effects after vaccination. These are normal and should go away in a few days.
  • It typically takes 2 weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. You are not fully vaccinated until 2 weeks after the second dose of a 2-dose vaccine or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine.
  • After you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic


What we are still learning:

  • How well the vaccines protect people with weakened immune systems, including people who take medicines that suppress the immune system
  • How long COVID-19 vaccines protect people
  • How many people have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the population can be considered protected (population immunity)
  • How effective the vaccines are against new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19


There is so much information available that it can be a bit overwhelming.  The CDC website is full of great information, here is a list of resources that you can use to get the most up to date information.