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Clinic CEO shares update on delta variant, vaccination events

Minnesota will join in the Biden administration’s plan to provide $100 incentives to residents who get COVID-19 vaccinations by mid-August.

President Joe Biden announced the rewards as part of sweeping new pandemic requirements for millions of federal workers as he denounced an “American tragedy” of rising-yet-preventable deaths among unvaccinated people.

Unvaccinated Minnesotans 12 and older who get their first shot by Aug. 15 will get a $100 Visa gift card to spend however they choose.

Minnesotans, including Cook County residents, can verify their first dose and claim their card by clicking here.

All Minnesotans qualify for COVID-19 shots through health care providers, pharmacies and other sources.

“We have made so much progress to combat this virus,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. “We cannot give up ground now, especially with students returning to the classroom this fall. Getting paid $100 to keep your family safe is a pretty good deal — all you have to do is roll up your sleeves.”

Walz said he will authorize up to $2.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to launch the program and will seek legislative approval for more money to sustain it. He said he’ll also work with lawmakers and nonprofits to set up a subsequent grant program to provide incentives aimed at Minnesotans in vulnerable and underserved communities.

Minnesota, like other states, has struggled to raise its vaccination rates. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 68.6 percent of Minnesotans, including 80 percent of Cook County residents 12 and older, have received at least their first dose, but doses administered in recent weeks have flattened out.

Cook County Public Health, Grand Portage Health Services and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic are collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Health to offer the two-dose Pfizer vaccine at the Cook County Community Center on Wednesday, August 11 from 3-6 p.m. Although the event targets local teens, anyone ages 12 and older is eligible to receive a vaccine.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke recently with Sawtooth Mountain Clinic CEO Kate Surbaugh about current threats from the coronavirus, including the new delta variant. They also discussed the upcoming vaccination event set for Aug. 11. The audio below is their complete conversation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.