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Living with ever-changing guidelines



BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota hit another dark milestone with COVID-19.

Today it was reported the state hit 1,500 COVID-related deaths statewide, and is also one death away from 900 in long-term care.

However, these thresholds are becoming fewer and far between.

When the state of emergency was first declared, one of the main objectives was to protect vulnerable populations.

With long-term care residents being among the first to receive the vaccine, those populations are seeing the continuous easement of restrictions with momentum going in a positive direction.

Georgene Vredenburg has a lot of glasses. Roughly 35 pairs to be precise.

She moved to her new facility just three months ago, but things have changed a lot in that short amount of time.

“When I came, I was quarantined for two solid weeks. I couldn’t go out the door. At that time, the dining room was even closed. They had to deliver meals to everybody,” Vrendenburg said.

With the change in seasons came the change in guidance, thanks to vaccination rates.

According to the state Human Services Department, more than 90% of long-term care residents are fully vaccinated.

However, rates among staff are down in the 60s, despite being among the first in line.

“But as we start to see now some fruit, per say, hanging from the tree for people to grab and something that people can actually visualize as a reward of getting vaccinated, I think that’s gonna play largely into the uptick that we have already started to see in the past few weeks,” Seth Fisher of the VP3 said.

Still, residents and staff are tested regularly.

If a positive test comes up, the facility goes back into a lockdown, but that cloud doesn’t hang over the residents.

“I think it’s doing just really good. It’s helped a lot now that we’re released. One of the girls said ‘we’re out of prison,’” Vredenburg laughed. “But it doesn’t hurt.”

With North Dakota taking months, rather than weeks, to see the next 100 COVID-related deaths and all long-term care cases below 30, life continues to march towards the new normal.