It is time to raise a glass and welcome another new year. As people finally say goodbye to the most disastrous year yet, significant relief can be found in knowing that 2021 will undoubtedly bring a greater sense of prosperity and well being. After all, it is almost impossible to imagine this year getting any worse than last year. It is very tempting to be looking forward to hitting the reset button because there are so many positive things on our horizon, a few of which are listed below.
The Will To Live
Sorry for stating the obvious, but first and foremost, it’s not 2020. That, in itself, should give enough reason to be optimistic. The people were dealt a worldwide pandemic, went through the ugliest political season of recent history, and were reminded of social injustices. Yet, even after all that, we still managed to find a way to work as a community to make sure that needy children had toys and food for Christmas and reconnected with friends and family. We even checked on our neighbours, refusing to let all the discord of 2020 define us.
Pfizer and Moderna
Scientists have actually been working on the basics of the COVID-19 vaccine ever since the SARS pandemic in 2002, and all that has finally paid off. Thanks to the efforts of companies like Pfizer and Moderna, the people of Clay County have hope that the vaccine will be effective. The fact the world has found a way to push back and defeat this pandemic from China is a major source of relief. Hopefully, by the end of 2021, we will be able to refer to the coronavirus in the past tense.
The Clay County Agriculture Fair
With a lot of support from the Clay County Emergency Management and the Clay County Health Department, the Clay County Agriculture Fair will finally return on the 1st of April for an 11-day run. Not only is the Agriculture Fair one of the most significant economic engines in the county, but it is also the annual event that brings the whole community together for a night of amusement rides, funnel cakes and concerts. The general manager of the Clay County Agriculture Fair Tasha Hyder said there are no plans to invoke restrictions as of yet. With the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, there is absolutely no reason not to buy your tickets now.
Good Law Enforcement
The actions of the Metro Nashville Police Department on the morning of Christmas day are the very reason why they should be respected and appreciated for their dedication to law enforcement. Six officers went door to door evacuating people from a suicide bombing site. They were able to get all the people to run to safety, but they ran towards it. Police officers are often not thanked for their services and are criticized while in reality, their work in Clay County is vital to the safety and civility of the people.
The Minnesota Food Charter is a roadmap made to guide community leaders and policymakers in providing the people of Minnesota with equal access to safe, healthy and affordable food irrespective of where they live. This access helps improve the overall health and wellbeing of the residents and also has the potential to enhance the state’s economy significantly.
However, the Minnesota Food Charter Network has become inactive without staff and is now in a state of transition. A Transition Team, comprising former Action Team members, was charged with recommending directions for statewide collaborative work for the future of the town. After reviewing several existing evaluation documents and conducting a National Convening of States with Food System Plans, the Transition Team came up with the following recommendations. These recommendations were formulated for the whole of Minnesota, but are applicable to all the counties under Minnesota, including the Clay County.
- A shift in focus to invest in regional and local groups working to enhance the food system in Minnesota, focusing on collaborative efforts to build capacity and connectivity, particularly across differences, sectors and scales.
- Support the emergence of developing skills, new leadership, connectivity, and experience; with increased priority on communities that are under-represnted and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
- Continue to allow connectivity to flourish through the existing communications channels, which includes the Minnesota Food Charter website, social media, and blog.
- Set the stage for the next chapter of statewide collaborative work. Statewide, collaborative food systems need to be re-envisioned to emphasize equity-based food systems work with efforts already being made in communities across the state. The future of these continued statewide collaborative efforts will ultimately be shaped by those who will be working together.
The Response Of The Minnesota Food Charter Network In Supporting The Proposed Recommendations
The Minnesota Food Charter Network has so far:
- Contributed a sum of fifteen thousand dollars worth of scholarships to the Food Justice Summit in order to support the new leadership, particularly among the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities.
- Provided financial support to build facilitation and leadership skills from communities across the counties of Minnesota, in partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension staff. More information about the Facilitation and Leadership training programmes provided by the Clay County can be found online.
- Pledged financial support for a second cohort in order to participate in the Action Learning Seed Fund through a shared gifting process. This was done in partnership with the staff of the University of Minnesota Extension.
- Continued to host the website for the Minnesota Food Charter and promote the fantastic food systems work taking place across the state through contributions to email, website and social media for further collaboration and peer learning.
The Clay County Emergency Management has collaborated with the county’s health department to administer a few doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to a select few. However, most vaccinations have begun on the 4th of January, 2021, which was a Monday. By early Wednesday morning the previous week, the first round of appointments for the initial allocation of the vaccine in the county was already filled. They then announced the county would open appointments for four extra days at 10 AM on Wednesday, but within an hour later, all positions were filled once again.
According to the Clay County Emergency Management Director John Ward, the biggest confusion that people faced the other night was because of the limited amount of appointments that were made available. They opened up the site on Tuesday morning and were open seven days, because they did 224 vaccines per day, and so they opened up a certain amount of days and got literally filled up in three hours. Then they opened up the rest on Wednesday morning which filled up in 55 minutes for the rest of the 3,000 vaccines.
The first shipment of Clay County’s Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on the 23rd of December 2020 and the county will begin phase one vaccinations on the following priority groups first.
- Residents 65 and older
- Health care workers
Appointments are definitely required, but the Florida Department of Health representatives have ensured that people from Florida do not have to be residents of Clay County to make an appointment to receive the vaccine there. Tuesday saw the opening of appointments, with the distribution starting on Monday, continuing from 9 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday at the UF/IFAS Extension Clay County Godbold Building west of Green Cove Springs at the Fairgrounds, 2463 State Road 16. Those with appointments have to wear a mask and their ID compulsorily.
When a couple on-site was asked whether the process has been confusing, they replied that unless you were not a resident of Clay County, visitors might find it challenging to find the building, but other than that the process was relatively simple.
Mr John Ward said they were scheduled to administer their 3,000 shots until the 20th of January 2021. He stated that they are not compiling a waiting list as of yet because it is still debatable when Clay County will receive its second allotment of the Moderna vaccine.
Some residents of separate living facilities such as Moosehaven in Orange Park and emergency medical service workers received the vaccine on Wednesday at the fairgrounds, but the main rollout is on Monday. Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes are being handled independently on a federal contract basis.