11-12-2020 COVID cases rise; Pfizer vaccine nears; Local canvassers still reviewing Election Day 202

State Rep. Pauline Wendzel salutes Don Young

COVID cases rise; Pfizer vaccine nears

By Jon Bisnett Forty states have demonstrated an increase in the percentage of new cases and\or hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the most recent week. Thirteen of those states posted record numbers of new cases when compared to infections recorded in March and April; while in a welcome press release on Monday, Pfizer and partner BioNTech said that their vaccine against COVID-19 was strongly effective, exceeding expectations with results that are likely to be met with cautious excitement — and relief — in the face of the global pandemic. The vaccine is the first to be tested in the United States to generate late-stage data. The companies said an early analysis of the results showed that individuals who received two injections of the vaccine three weeks apart experienced more than 90% fewer cases of symptomatic COVID-19 than those who received a placebo. For months, researchers have cautioned that a vaccine might only be 60% or 70% effective. Officials say fast-tracking of Food and Drug Administration approval could see the vaccine given to frontline workers as soon as mid-December. Berrien County actions Closer to home the Berrien County Health Department has radically modified its contact tracing process. Over the last month, the 7-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases has risen from approximately 19 new cases per day in the second week of October to now an average of 76 new cases per day. “With the significant increase in cases, it has become increasingly more difficult to rapidly contact everyone who has tested positive or who is considered a close contact of a positive case,” said Nicki Britten, health officer, Berrien County Health Department. “We are asking our community to help reduce transmission. If you test positive, take action immediately by isolating and notifying close contacts. If you have been exposed to someone with the virus, please quarantine at home away from others. Isolation and quarantine remain important public health tools for us to cut off the chain of viral transmission within our community.” See more information on the actions of the Berrien County Health Department regarding COVID-19 in their column on Page 5 of this week’s Record. Schools In the same week that Hartford students are returning from quarantine from in-person learning, Watervliet Superintendent Ric Seager referenced an uptick in community spread of COVID-19 in the school, as he announced Watervliet Public Schools will be suspending in-person instruction through Friday, November 13, 2020. Based on the data they receive from the BCHD over the next few days, Watervliet Schools will decide if they will extend this suspension beyond Friday. Please continue to follow best practices as recommended: Wear a mask when indoors and outdoors when you are unable to keep a 6-ft. distance from others; practicing social distancing by keeping six feet or more between you and others; washing or sanitizing your hands frequently; staying home if you are ill or have COVID-19, or other respiratory illness symptoms; while those who are at highest risk of the virus should avoid large gatherings in their entirety.

Don Young honored for long-time board member service to Watervliet District Library

Don Young, Watervliet District Library board member emeritus, was honored with a surprise tribute especially fitted to his community service, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The Don Young Business Collection was revealed in his honor, during a short ceremony attended by State Senator Kim LaSata, State Representative Pauline Wendzel, current board members Mary Tatter, Pat Geisler, Sara Duris, Bob Wallace, library director Sharon Crotser-Toy, and Don and Fran Young. Those present shared memories of Don’s sixty-two years on the board, recalling projects undertaken during his tenure (the renovation and move to the library’s current location, among one of his many achievements), and his careful stewardship of the library’s financial resources. Don’s grace and guidance were attributes especially appreciated by his board colleagues over the years. Sara Duris, current President of the Library’s Board of Trustees, spoke about the process to create a tribute that honored both Don’s library commitment and his service to the community as a whole. “Establishing a business collection seems to tick all the boxes,” explained Duris, recognizing the many behind-the-scenes projects Young has supported over the years to the benefit of the local business community. The Don Young Business Collection available through the Watervliet District Library consists of both print and digital titles, periodicals, and Reference USA, a premier database containing a rich and diverse set of demographic details designed to assist businesses for research and information. The complete collection can be accessed through the library’s web page, at www.watervlietlibrary.net.