More than 600 St. Joseph teachers could be getting in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine later this month after Missouri announced it is making the shots available for many essential workers starting March 15.
Those in Phase 1B tier 3 include critical workers in education, childcare, food and agriculture and government, among others, according to the covidvaccine.mo.gov.
St. Joseph School District Health Coordinator Maria Burnham said there are more than 600 faculty within the district who are wanting to get the vaccine. In neighboring states such as Kansas, teachers have been included in the vaccine priority for several weeks.
“We’ve been working with representatives from Mosaic to kind of get together and look at our numbers and getting a list going to get things together for when the vaccine gets here,” Burnham said.
Burnham said the school district recently has been able to complete full weeks of in-person learning and she believes the vaccine will continue to help with educating safely and creating a bubble of herd immunity.
Dr. Davin Turner, chief medical officer for Mosaic Life Care, said about 2,000 vaccines now are being given weekly at the vaccine clinic at East Hills Shopping Center, with Northwest Health Services adding about 500 of its doses to Mosaic’s allotment. He said the center is ready for increased supply as staff there are able to give up to 1,500 vaccines a day.
“Our big thing is, again, getting the supply of vaccine. The more we can get, the more we can give, and we certainly want to work with those folks and work with Northwest Health Services,” Turner said.
Last Friday, Gov. Mike Parson said the state would have a weekly supply of about 120,000 Pfizer vaccines, 128,000 Moderna vaccines and close to 260,000 vaccines for pharmacies within the federal partnership. The approval by the FDA of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will add supply as well.
According to the Associated Press, Missouri vaccinators are expected to receive the first 50,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by Wednesday, and the state’s health director said the shots can start as soon as the doses arrive.
Turner said Mosaic Life Care is fully equipped to handle the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well as work with the Pifzer vaccine that no longer has to be in ultra cold storage, per the FDA.
Mosaic Life Care is encouraging those who are in tier 2 of Phase 1B to sign up now for the waiting list for a vaccine before the next tier opens.
Frederick Avenue is closed to traffic from 18th Street to 20th Street due to city sewer repairs.
During an inspection, the city came across a void around a manhole on Frederick Avenue outside D&G Pub and Grub. The city was preparing to fix it, when freezing temperatures and winter weather delayed the project.
The city closed Frederick Avenue in preparation of the repairs but reopened the westbound lane when work couldn’t be done due to the weather.
But now that the weather is warm, both lanes are closed, forcing drivers to take detours. Westbound traffic has to take Union Street to 22nd Street to get back to Frederick. Eastbound traffic has to turn right on Howard Street then a left on 18th Street.
“Detour’s been going on for a better part of two weeks, because we found (the void) then we started looking at it, then we realized it wasn’t the best thing to have people driving over, so we closed the roads,” said Andy Clements, the director of public works and transportation.
The city hopes to complete the project this week, as long as the weather is nice.
“The actual patching of the pavement is going to hold off until it’s warm enough to do that, so we might maintain it with a gravel utility patch until it warms up enough to make the repairs,” Clements said.
The city isn’t sure how much the repairs will cost because the extent of the damage isn’t known yet.
“We never know the parameters of the void until you actually dig it out,” Clements said. “I don’t have a good number until we see how bad that is.”
A little more than $56,000 has been set aside for the repairs, but the city hopes it will be cheaper than that total.
Energy provider Evergy will continue its moratorium on service disconnections through May 2.
“Back in early December, we announced that we had reinstated our moratorium on disconnection for non-payment,” said Gina Penzig, manager of external communications for Evergy. “At that point, we set a deadline of March 1 saying that we would, as that day approached, that we would take a look again to see if circumstances had changed significantly. As we did that evaluation, the team decided that extension was the right thing to do,”
The company first announced temporary moratorium plans in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave many residential and small business customers a chance to keep their electricity running even when their bills were past due.
Penzig said all things were considered by the company’s team when deciding to keep the moratorium on disconnection for non-payment. Options such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, otherwise known as LIHEAP, and possible assistance through the next federal stimulus package would allow customers to gain some ground before disconnections resume in early May.
“The disconnect moratorium has been an important help for customers through the pandemic, but through this time customers have continued to use electricity and accrued an account balance,” Penzig said. “So, this is a really good time to start identifying any community resources available.”
The deadline for submitting LIHEAP applications for the Winter Energy Crisis Intervention Program is March 31. Applicants who qualify can be issued up to $800 to be used towards their energy bills. Evergy also offers payment-plan options for up to 12 months.
In a statement released last week, Chuck Caisley, vice president and chief customer officer at Evergy, echoed the same sentiment regarding financial assistance opportunities as the moratorium was extended.
“Over the last year, some customers may have accumulated a high past-due balance, and emergency assistance funds could help them reduce balances owed,” Caisley said. “We encourage customers to seek assistance now as funding is limited and will expire this year.”
The statement also said that in the coming weeks, Evergy will be reaching out to customers whose “accounts may be in danger of disconnect beginning May 3.”