Community, Demography

The Useable data on Covid

Figuring out the data to use is important.  On May 9, 1864, Union General John Sedgwick said “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance” three separate times.  After the third statement, he became the highest ranking Union officer to die in battle.  He was missing a couple relevant pieces of information – first, the Confederates had snipers with Whitworth rifles, and second, at 800 yards, the Whitworths were making 12 inch groups – far smaller than an elephant.

It’s similar with Covid – each of us is like General Sedgwick, not knowing which piece of data is relevant, or even exists.  Some data ties in blood types.  I’m not certain it is data we can use.  Death and age combine to give us the most solid data that we have – and it may be of some use.  Statista provides this information, as of January 9. 2021, for the US.

AgeNumber of Deaths
Under 134

As you look at these numbers, it’s probably worth remembering that over 50 million Americans are over 65 years old – where most of the casualties are.  Soon we’ll have the 2020 census, but until then the 2010 census data is usable – a bit low, but usable.  The tragic loss of 55 kids under 4 comes from over 20 million population in the 0 – 4 age cohort.  The 105,673 deaths of people 85 and over comes from a cohort of 5½ million.

If you want to calculate the years of life lost to covid, the social security life tables are available at:  Still, we’re dealing with big data – and, as I realized when I was being treated for colon cancer, the most important thing about your life expectancy isn’t the number for your age, it’s which side of the median you’re on. 

The data shows that Covid’s deadliness increases with the age of the person it infects.  The data isn’t adequate to show either the probability of being infected or missing the virus.  It’s easy to describe the statistics of the Spanish Flu – but most of the data was compiled and available by 1920.  This article describes how Gunnison, Colorado isolated their way out of the Spanish Flu: Isolation worked well for Gunnison. 

The folks at APM Research Lab have calculated out death rates by race – and their study is worth a look, despite the problem that race is more a social construct than genetically identifiable.  Here’s some of their data (as of January 5).

“These are the documented, nationwide actual mortality impacts from COVID-19 data (aggregated from all available U.S. states and the District of Columbia) for all race groups since the start of the pandemic.

  • 1 in 595 Indigenous Americans has died (or 168.4 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 735 Black Americans has died (or 136.5 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 895 Pacific Islander Americans has died (or 112.0 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 1,000 Latino Americans has died (or 99.7 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 1,030 White Americans has died (or 97.2 deaths per 100,000)
  • 1 in 1,670 Asian Americans has died (or 59.9 deaths per 100,000)
  • Indigenous Americans have the highest actual COVID-19 mortality rates nationwide—about 2.8 times as high as the rate for Asians, who have the lowest actual rates.

Data is data.  There’s not a lot of difference between Latino and White rates. 

Weird Words

Developing International Socialism

As you could figure, the problem with Marx’ theoretical communism is in two concepts – first “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” kind of breaks down fast in the real world scenario, and second, when all property is publicly owned,  real decision-making is in the hands of the manager.  Lincoln Electric is our closest example – with the slogan “owned by the people we serve.”  I remember how many of the owners showed up over 30 years ago to take the co-op back – and what an unusual accomplishment it was.  The cooperative is technically owned by the members – but it is controlled by the manager except for rare occasions.

The term for the manager controlling a socially owned means of production was first used by Joseph Weydemeyer – a lieutenant colonel in the Union army, a Republican and a Marxist. He formed the first Marxist organization in the US.  I never did get a quiet chance to ask Winton Weydemeyer politely about what he might know about Joseph, and still regret the unasked question – there just never was a courteous opportunity.   Anyway, since a socially owned means of production can’t be managed by the owners, Joseph Weydemeyer gave us the term “dictatorship of the proletariat.”  It is an important term in differentiating between Marx’ view of communism and the international socialism we think of as communism.

While Marxist communism couldn’t get past this management problem, it wasn’t a problem until the Russian Revolution.  All at once the communists had a big country to manage – and the successor to Marxism was Leninism.

“Leninism can be explained as the political theory that works towards the organization of a vanguard party which is revolutionary and achieves to attain dictatorship of the proletariat in order to establish socialism. This vanguard party’s aim was supposed to provide the proletariat consciousness about their class in order to destroy capitalism in Imperial Russia. He knew that imperialism was caused by capitalism and it was the exorbitant point of capitalism. Communism is a higher form than that of capitalism, it was proposed that the revolution by the proletariat had to occur first in the economically and industrially advanced countries.

According to Lenin, the Communist party consisted of a scientific understanding of the history and of a society guided by the Marxist principles. They were deeply committed to ending capitalism and replacing it with socialism. They believed that this was only possible with the acquisition of political power. The aim of achieving this political power made them do anything that was possible, be it violence or revolution if required. Lenin argued that the workers or proletariats alone could acquire revolutionary and class consciousness that was needed. Deep within he was afraid that the proletariats would become easily content with smaller gains in their living as well as working conditions acquired through the various trade union activities. He feared that the proletariats would be diverted easily in their motive to dethrone capitalism. This was the point where Leninism differed from Marxism. For the Marxists, material conditions were enough to facilitate the workers to realize their need for revolting . . . Some of the unprecedented results of Leninism were that its pursuit of creating a socialist society led to the creation of a totalitarian state where all the social, economic, cultural, aspects of life were being controlled by the Communist party. Marxism and Leninism predicted the victory of the proletariat; it resulted instead in the increased power of the state.”

Basically, Joseph Weydemeyer and V. I. Lenin melded the dictatorship of the proletariat to the utopian socialist ideals of Robert Owens and the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels to develop the ideology of Leninism – the ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – international socialism.

Community, Demography

When the official data isn’t good data

As I was retiring, the American Community Survey(ACS) was replacing the long-form Census questionnaire.  There is merit to the argument that a survey can provide data that is as good as a form that one out of six people fill out – both are, after all, actually surveys.  Still, as a rural sociologist whose primary duties were rural demography, I wasn’t comfortable with the American Community Survey results – the sampling size was too small.

Now, I can access data that compiles five years worth of estimates – so here is some data on Rexford, Eureka, Fortine and Trego, by zip code, in two separate five-year conglomerates:

Total Population5664,425584562
5 to 9212823452
10 to 14353052249
Median (Average) Age58.043.650.749.2
Per capita income$22,377$18,799$21,203$25,999
Total Population6584,769747476
5 to 953212
10 to 14502163520
Median (Average) Age56.046.847.260.4
Per capita income$13,438$22,867$28,753$26,671

The American Community Survey is a well-conducted survey.  The data is correct, in both cases, within the limits of the survey.  The small samples, however, can create some large swings and make the data less useful.  I have been looking forward to reviewing the Trego data since I was selected to return the ACS survey.  Trego’s median age went up 11 years.  The population dropped by 15%.  The youth population plunged.  Meanwhile Fortine incomes increased by 36%, as Rexford plunged into the depths of poverty.  All the survey data is correct – but sampling bias, due to the small number of participants, has given us data we can’t use.

I still prefer the old, time-consuming long form results over the ACS.


Stimulus payments, not junk mail!

Covid19 stimulus payments have begun to trickle into North Lincoln County again, and as the current PSE/Postmaster of Fortine, I feel it’s quite important to spread this information around. You see, some of these stimulus payments aren’t as official-looking as they could be.

The above piece of suspicious-looking mail is actually a stimulus payment from the federal government, not junk mail. Covid stimulus payments were first issued as prepaid debit cards this past May. There wasn’t much coverage of the different payment method, and as a result, is it any wonder that folks all over the country accidentally threw them away?

A couple of stimulus payments later, the same thing is happening again. Folks all across the nation have begun to accidentally throw their EIP (“Economic Impact Payment”) cards away. .

If you received your previous stimulus payments as direct deposits, you should have received this one as a direct deposit as well. However, receiving an actual stimulus check last time does not guarantee that you’ll get a check this time.

An example of what our EIC Card envelope looked like.
(I’ve obscured the address, but it was right beneath the barcode.)

The above envelope contains a prepaid debit card, though how much money that card contains may vary depending on whether or not it is a joint card for you and your spouse, etc. You’ll want to activate your card promptly and check its value on the official EIP Card website. Nowhere on the EIP Cards, or in their enclosed letters is their value stated! Your EIP card can be used similarly to a normal debit card, but it’s worth noting that there are extra fees associated with using it.0

Fees associated with the EIP Card:
I’m not terribly fond of these cards – there’s a number of ways your balance gets whittled down.
Doesn’t it feel like death by a thousand cuts? The fees are as follows:

ATM withdrawals – Domestic——$2.00 fee,
This applies to all out-of-network ATMS, but is waived for your 1st withdrawal.
There are no-fee ATMs, though few and far between.
Our only one in the North Lincoln County area is at Stein’s Market in Eureka.
Your next closest options are Libby and Whitefish.
ATM balance inquiry—————-$0.25 fee
This fee applies at all ATMs – both in-network and out-of-network.
Instead of wasting those 25 cents, check your balance online for free.
You can also check your balance by calling Customer Service: 1.800.240.8100.
Bank/cashier withdrawal————$5.00 fee
Like the out-of-network ATM withdrawals, this fee is waived for your first cash withdrawal, but will apply to all others.

What if your card was thrown away, lost, or stolen?
Call the EIP Customer Service helpline at 1.800.240.8100.
If you manage to get through to them, (and then jump through the relevant hoops to deactivate the damaged or missing one), they’ll send you a replacement card at no extra charge.

If you can’t get through to the IRS via their phone number (their line has been rather busy lately), consider downloading IRS Form 3911, filling it out, and submitting it via the IRS website.

Here’s the IRS page on how to request a trace of your EIP (card or check). It also contains information on how to properly submit form 3911.


Chickarees, our local Pine Squirrels

Two weeks past, Sandi Elster asked if I knew anything about our red squirrels. While I’ve spent some time with Pine Squirrels in other places, I’ve not had a chance to observe for an extended period of time here yet – the presence of dogs interferes with that. However, I have met them once or twice since moving to Trego, despite our little predator’s best efforts.

In this neck of the woods, an American Red Squirrel is often called a “Chickaree” or a “Chicory”. My personal preference is for “Chickaree”, as the other spelling can also refer to a plant related to the dandelion – it makes a decent tea, and a rather sad coffee substitute, but isn’t the squirrel we seek.

The pine squirrel most common on our place is the American Red Squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus. These are considerably smaller than the Fox Squirrels I grew up calling “red squirrels” in South Dakota. Additionally, the American Red Squirrel tends to prefer far more forested areas. Fox and Gray Squirrels (both in genus Sciurus) tend to do well for themselves in town, but Tamiasciurus pine squirrels seem to do better on the outskirts or away from towns.

A summer picture of an American Red Squirrel from several years ago -it’s not often they pose so well.

Pine Squirrels defend territories throughout the winter months, and when sufficiently established, they leave behind territory to their children, and children’s children.

These territories focus on things called “middens“. These are basically large piles where squirrels have been processing pine nuts for generations. If a female is well-off enough, she may defend several middens, and may give control of some of them to her offspring, to help them get through the winter. If an American Red Squirrel doesn’t have a midden of its own by its first winter, it is unlikely to survive, so inheritances can be very important.

Though it may come as a surprise to some, all squirrels seem to enjoy eating meat on occasion. They often visit carrion, both to feed on the flesh, as well as to gnaw on the bone (a habit more common in females – having kids makes calcium intake awfully important). While occasional and opportunistic, many squirrels hunt as well. As is the case in our voles, these small mammals agree that there are few better ways of convincing your annoying neighbors to move on than by devouring their little ones.

John Muir had great regard for the Pine Squirrel, particularly the Douglas Squirrel, the western relative of our American Red Squirrel.

Community, Plants, Wildlife

Thinning in Winter

When I start the chainsaw, I attract deer.  The inflow starts with a doe who learned, as a fawn, that my chainsaw meant there would be winter food near the house,  She shows up, with her yearling daughter and two fawns.  She often chooses to browse the mosses and lichens on the trees, as do the rest of her family.  The newer dependents usually just browse the needles – and they seem to come to dinner in their own family groups to minimize conflict.

The place needs thinning.  The large stumps bear witness to the first logging – done around 1910, with smaller stumps showing a second, smaller harvest a little after the second world war.  Yet another scattered group of stumps shows where a man with a horse, a saw and a broadaxe could be in the crosstie business – opportunity, if hard work.  The other stump evidence shows the Christmas tree industry . . . and I wonder if we could have yarded Christmas trees along the old road in the sixties and seventies without the deer browsing destroying them. 

I had a visitor comment, “You’re parking it out.”  I don’t see it that way – nearly 50 years ago, a forester taught me a simple principle – each acre will produce about the same amount of wood.  Spaced properly, the wood grows into harvestable logs.  Additionally, with the open canopy, it will produce about 80% of the grass that would grow on an open meadow.  Forest management pays, but takes a long-term perspective and consistent maintenance.  Others may think I’m parking it out close to the house – I think I’m still that same conservationist . . . though I left that career path almost 40 years ago.

And I learn – doing my thinning mostly in the winter provides food for my semi-domestic dependents.  There is something pleasant about trimming branches on one end of a log while deer browse 15 feet further up.

Apologies to our subscribers if you were notified about this article twice. An unfortunate result of working in the wee morning hours on little caffeine. We’re still only coming out on Tuesdays.


Trego School Enrollment Grows- Also, Taxes

The last school board meeting had the announcement of 3 more students this semester. That’s an increase from 23 students to 26, or a 13% increase in enrollment since Fall. School enrollment remains something to be watched closely, given the previous trend.

Trego school’s enrollment graph from previous article

The increased enrollment fit with reading the Budget Amendment Resolution

the trustees have determined that an amendment to the state elementary fund budget in the amount of $25,584.05 is necessary . . . for the purpose of properly maintaining and supporting the district due to an increase in enrollment that was beyond what could reasonably have been anticipated at the time of the adoption of the budget for the current school fiscal year; and the anticipated source of financing the budget amendment expenditures shall be additional state assistance through direct state aid.”

The second financial decision was to direct the clerk to establish a permissive levy for a building reserve fund.  The basis for the building reserve fund shared with the board members was:

Permissive levy in Sub Fund 613 which includes:

1. State Major Maintenance Aid (SMMA)
SMMA amount is $15,000 + $100xprior year ANB (22) = $17,200

2. Permissive Levy which can’t exceed 10.000 mills per fiscal year (a mill is 1/1000 of taxable value (TV/1000) Taxable valuation for the district in 2021 is $1,932,429. 1,932,429/1000 = $1931 mill x 10 = $19,310
Tax impact on property: levied mills x property’s taxable value/1000
Districts must first levy 10 mills and then can budget non-levy revenues or legal transfers (some restrictions apply)  Need to look into if we can transfer from a non budgeted fund (15) to building reserve.

3. The projects must be listed and the priority for projects are listed on the Facility Condition Report under their deficiency categories. Those need addressed first. “

A few translations: The state is willing to give aid that can be used for maintenance. The amount will be $15,000 plus the prior year’s enrollment (22) multiplied by $100. Thus, $15,000 + $2,200 = $17,200 that can be expected from the state.

Permissive levy- this is a levy that does not require a vote by the public. In this instance, MCA 20-9-502 allows a school board to impose no more than a 10 mill level per fiscal year to go towards the building reserve. The school expects to get $19,310 out of this.

What this actually means for your taxes? School district 53’s market value is assessed at $114,462,957. The taxable property value is set at $1,932,429 – a little less than 2% of the market value. Consequently, the math is 10 x taxable value/1000 – if your taxable value is $1000, the additional tax will be $10, if your taxable value is $10,000, the additional tax will be $100, and so on.

Lastly, anything they use that money for has to be on the Facility Condition Inventory and has to be addressed in order of priority. The Facility Condition Inventory comes via state inspection, so what to fix and in what order isn’t determined by anyone local. The most current Facility Condition Inventory that was available is dated 1/24/2008 – so it appears to be high time to look at getting some maintenance done.


Board of Health Recommended New Member, Appointed Officers

Since the board met via zoom, attendance was relatively straight forward. It did, however, require an installation (brief) of zoom.

The meeting began with the nomination of officers. Current Board Chair Jan Ivers mentioned a desire not to return as chair, but expressed doubts that anyone else would wish to take the position.

She and Josh Letcher (County Commissioner, representing District 3) were both nominated for board chair and the floor was opened for comment, which went as follows:

The first public comment came from DC Orr, of Libby. He began by remarking on the necessity of use of parliamentary procedure by the board chair, and suggesting it was an area in which Jan Ivers had been lacking as chair.

Jonathon Allen spoke next, suggested that officers should be chosen later, once a new member is appointed, since George (Jamison) stepped down.

Deb (presumably Debra Armstrong, board member representing Eureka) spoke next, in favor of Josh as board chair. She expressed some concerns about rules of order not being followed, not sticking with the agenda, etc.

Laura (presumably Laura Crismore representing Libby) inquired if it was necessary to follow the bylaws. In response to her question the bylaws were cited and the board seemed to conclude following them was necessary.

Josh Letcher remarked that he appreciated being nominated and that he understood the frustration with the way meetings had been going. He also praised Jan Ivers for improving in her role as board chair. He concluded by commenting on the difficulties the current meeting schedule would cause him, given his need to travel if he were elected Board Chair.

Then Jan Ivers spoke, remarking that “Four years ago, no one wanted this position, so I took it”.

Jim Seifert (representing Troy) referenced a comment Josh Letcher had made previously about acting as a liaison between the board and the county commissioners, asking Josh to clarify his role on the board.

Josh Letcher replied that he did not remember the comment, but did remember an email, pointing out that the county doesn’t actually have a representative on the board from north county.

The Board, upon voting to appoint a board chair appeared to do so unanimously. Yes, Josh Letcher and the board member that nominated him both voted in favor of appointing the other candidate. Sara (Sarah Mertes, county representative out of the Libby area) was appointed as vice chair (3 votes to 2, with one abstaining. The other candidate was Debra Armstrong of Eureka). After the definition of secretary was read aloud from the bylaws, Jim Seifert accepted the nomination and was appointed secretary (no other nominations).

Board Recommendation: The board interviewed 6 candidates, rating them using a rubric (not provided the public). Interviews were in alphabetical order

  • Scott Bernard.
    • Scott Bernard lives in Eureka. He is a Eureka town councilmen with training in Hazmat and emergency response. He has experience in the American Red Cross as well as time as a Volunteer Fire Fighter, in addition to the training he received during his time with the army.
    • When asked about his reasons for wanting to be on the board, he advocated diverse backgrounds and experience in board members.
    • When asked his opinions about the pandemic response, he stated he had mixed feelings.
  • Anne German
    • Ann German is of the Libby Area. She was very blunt that she should not be appointed in order to represent North County, and would defer to someone from North Lincoln County (were that what the board was seeking- this was not confirmed to be the case), though she is interested in serving if another opening occurs.
  • Robin Gray,
    • Robin Gray is a native Montanan, born in Hamilton. She has 43 years in education, a degree in Elementary Ed, and a Masters in Education (and administration?). She referenced some of her time as a superintendent. She stated that she has prior board experience (listing several boards) and remarked that she brings a “team atmosphere”
    • On the pandemic response, she said she would have liked more communication or more ongoing communication on the pandemic, so that the board could promote factual information.
  • Latimer Hoke
    • Latimer was the youngest of the candidates. He has a bachelors of science and secondary Ed, a masters of science in education. He has been an EMT for 11 years, and a member of the ski patrol for 10. He has spent the last 8 years as a teacher in Eureka. He remarked that his board experience more limited than the other members, since he’d had less time to accumulate it. He has been on the ambulance board in Eureka.
    • Asked his opinion on the pandemic response, he remarked that he has observed a lot of passing the buck and not leading by example.
  • Patty Kincheloe
    • Patty Kincheloe chose Montana rather than being born here. Her degree is in education. She has a Masters in Educational Leadership and was a principal for a few years. She’s spent 30 years in the public school and 5 years in an alternative school. She currently substitutes at Chrysalis. Patty Kincheloe has spent 18 years with the ambulance, and worked with children with fetal alcohol.
    • On the pandemic response, she stated that she believes that we should wear masks when we’re in a spot people feel uncomfortable
  • Jeff Peterson
    • Jeff Peterson has a PhD in Health Communication. This would be his first community board, he’s been on several academic boards
    • On the Pandemic: He stated that it certainly could have been handled better, coordination from top down could have been better. Peterson remarked that there had been a lot of community passion around this issue which could have been better harnessed.
    • Jeff Peterson believes that his job and specialty on the board would be to “help people find appropriate information and the sources we can all agree on and translate that”

The board discussed the candidates briefly. It came down to Patty Kincheloe vs Jeff Peterson, with what sounded like 4 votes in favor of Jeff Peterson. The recommendation will go to the Commissioners, who have final say.

At 7:40 (it began at 6), the meeting finally moved the the next agenda item and the board went on to hear from Jeff Peterson (yes, the same Jeff Peterson) who’s working on contract with the Health Department. Peterson clarified that he would not serve on the board until his contract was over.

But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Go watch the whole thing! Fair warning, though, it’s about 3 hours. Or- read about the rest of the meeting.

Community, Demography

Easy Math but Fake News

Yesterday, I read that US Life Expectancy had dropped by a full year due to Covid.  I didn’t really think about it – I had taught about the drop in life expectancy accompanying the Spanish Flu, and had invented hypothetical plagues for student exercises in demography class.  But when I had the full-year drop in life expectancy cited to me a second time, I realized that large numbers keep us from checking the math, even when the data is readily available.  Here’s the basic math for checking the assertion, worked as we would have in the slide rule era.

The US population is just a little under 330 million.  At present there are approximately 400,000 Covid deaths.  Using the Social Security life expectancy tables was a good decision – the data is readily available to check your work . . . but we don’t need complex math to check the claim that US life expectancy will drop 1 year due to covid.  It’s probably worth mentioning that life expectancy is a statistical thing, accurate for a large group but not particularly accurate for an individual.  I’ve known people who lived past 100 and others who died at 14.  At age 12, they had similar chances to live to old age.

To reduce US life expectancy by one year, Covid would have to take away 330 million years of life (remember, there are 330 million people. If each loses one year…)

This is possible, but to make the math easy, lets state the problem in millions to get away from the tyranny of large numbers. .  We’re left with 330 for population, and 0.40 for deaths.  To reduce US life expectancy by one year, we have to have 330 (million years of life) lost by 0.40 (million people).

US PopulationCovid Deaths
330 million.4 million

Checking the math is nothing more than setting up a word problem: How many years of life are lost for each covid victim? Can there be 330 (million) total years of life lost with 0.40 (million) deaths due to covid?

Well, 330 years of life lost divided by .40 is: 825 years lost per covid death. That implies the average Covid death deprives its hypothetical victim of 825 years of life.  Since average life expectancy is now about 80 years, it looks like several orders of magnitude were lost in someone’s calculations.  The old slide rule techniques still have value in checking one’s work.

The same day, another stats guy ran numbers showing that the average Covid death was 13 years early.  That seems to have a bit more face validity – we can go to the charts that show death rates by age, develop percentages, and check his data against the tables – but I’m still making the math easy:

400,000 Covid deaths X 13 years = 5,200,000 lost years of life, or 5.2 million
5.2 million (lost years) divided by 330 million (population) = 0.0158 years of life expectancy per individual. 
0.0158 X 365 (days in a year) = 6 day drop in life expectancy.

The availability of data makes it possible for demography to be a science for everyone, and not confined to university campuses.


Board of Health Meeting: Reports, Vaccines, and more

In a meeting that lasted the better part of three hours, the board of health appointed officers, selected a candidate to recommend to the commissioners for replacing a board member, heard reports and answered questions.

After an hour and forty minutes (when the audience had, admittedly, started to thin substantially), reports began.

Team 56: It’s not entirely clear why Team 56 reports to the health board, or what their precise relationship to the board is. However, it was reported to the board that Team 56 delivered masks to high schools, “spread kindness, not covid” posters, as well as delivered thank you notes and balloon bouquets to the ER staff.

Covid Response Report: Jeff Peterson (yes, this is the same Jeff Peterson that the board recommended the commissioners appoint to the board) reported on the work he’s doing for the county (on contract). It sounds as though most of Peterson’s time has been spent filming videos for the website. The current focus is on frequently asked questions and “translating the science”.

Medical Provider Summary: Provided by board member Dr. Sara Mertes. Many of the first responders have received their first vaccine and the second will be administered soon. The vaccine used was the Moderna vaccine, and they hope to be administering vaccines to the community in the next several weeks.

Covid 19- Vaccinations– The county health department is working with clinics and hospital to put together a central list so that when vaccines arrive, people will be on the list for vaccines. They are prioritizing age and underlying conditions. The public can call the health department to get on the list, and the county will ask only for age and name (though information about a qualifying health condition could be provided). While there is a CDC program people can opt into for tracking symptoms/side-effects, it’s totally optional.

They were very blunt on the current states of vaccines in Lincoln County. They county has no idea how many vaccines we will receive, where they will arrive, or when. We can, however, expect that it will be the Moderna vaccine.

ChemPACK plan– No changes, but the plan is reviewed annually. This is part of the emergency medical counter measure plan. The chempack is a CDC owned cache containing nerve agent antidotes. Board approved the plan.

Liaison (George Jamison, county representative, leaving the board in order to devote more time as a volunteer with the asbestos program ): The PEN regulation– property valuation notification process- was formally adopted last March. One of the provisions was deferment on when it would become effective. This evening’s action item was to make it effective, as of February 1st. This regulation will impact the folks down in the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site.

Health Officer: Dr. Black spoke. He stated that while vaccines are not that far away, it’ll take time to get enough people vaccinated in the community. Dr. Black imagined looking at people’s faces with out masks in 6 or 7 months, but says we won’t be there until we get 80% of people vaccinated. He thinks that a high participation in vaccination will be necessary in order to get back to normal.

At 8:40, Jim Seifert discussed the rating system he’d proposed at the last meeting. He had decided not to put it on the agenda. One reason is that the health department is already overwhelmed and he didn’t want to add to their burden. He says he still believes that if one hospitalization or one death would be prevented, a rating system would be worthwhile. However, implementation would take several months and the vaccine is coming out.

Proposed update to operating procedures– tabled (It’s getting late. The room is cold)

Public Comment:

DC Orr: DC Orr critiqued Dr. Black’s response to someone’s question on vaccine safety (Dr. Black responded to a question by telling the person asking to read the vaccine studies). DC Orr suggests that Dr. Black could present on the topic. He also noted that the board is not familiar with its bylaws and did not follow the rules of order. He suggests they read a handbook on board membership. He then asked why Team 56, not being a governmental unit, was on the Agenda. Quoting Jim Seifert at the previous meeting, he described Seifert’s words as “demonizing” the community and called for him to apologize.

Trista Gillmore: Trista Gillmore, as Lincoln County Public Health Nurse would like to answer people’s questions about mRNA vaccines and provided her email (she may need a few days to answer questions):

Diane Watson: Diane Watson noted that the website for the county health department states that it says the public has 7 days to submit questions if they want them discussed at the meeting. She asked when the agenda and minutes would be posted?

The board clarified that the agenda must be posted 48 hours (2 days) in advance of the meeting but will be posted at least the Friday before the meeting). Draft minutes are always posted with the agenda.

While there seemed to be some confusion on how to answer the question (the problem of having to ask questions 7 days in advance of the meeting with the agenda not yet posted). Finally, Jan Ivers (board chair) explained that it is what the board is looking at with revising operating procedure number 2.

With that, the meeting was adjourned. The meeting times have been changed to 6 pm on Tuesdays, the second Tuesday of the month. The next meeting will be February 9th.