The Hopkins County Health Department continued vaccinating willing Hopkins County Jail inmates against COVID-19 on Monday.
Vaccination inoculations began on Friday with 48 inmates receiving a shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is a one shot dose.
Hopkins County Jailer Mike Lewis said out of the 326 current inmates at the jail, only 150 said they wanted to receive the vaccine.
“I was hoping it would be more that wanted it, just to help keep everyone safe,” he said. “We started with the mindset of seeing who was going to be here the longest and getting them vaccinated.”
Lewis said after 150 inmates signed up to receive the vaccine, the Hopkins County Health Department provided the supplies.
“I’m glad the vaccine is here for people who are willing to take it,” he said. “It is a group that while they are not exposed to the outside a great deal, we are in a situation where if it did get inside, staying quarantined away from others would be hard. I’m glad that those who are wanting to have it had that opportunity.”
One inmate, Charles Cowan, was one of the 150 that signed up to be vaccinated.
“I decided to get the vaccine because I’m going to be entered into drug court and I figured I would need it to be around the public,” he said. “My parents are older too, and I want to be safe around them also.”
Cowan said he thinks everyone should get vaccinated.
“I think they should get it,” he said. “I think we should be able to get everything opened back up so we can go back to normal.”
The jail still follows protocols that they have since the beginning of the pandemic quarantining incoming inmates for a certain amount of time before they are released into the general public of the jail inmates.
“The only thing we have changed on our initial lockdown protocols is that we started doing classes that are taught internally by our staff,” said Lewis. “Inmates can still participate in programs. All of those programs are those they can earn time off their sentence for. We are still not letting volunteers in yet.”
The jail also is continuing to gradually take in state inmates.
“Four different times, we have brought state inmates in the past couple of months,” said Lewis. “We are still looking to slowly bring our numbers back up. We can’t go back to our full capacity quickly, even if we wanted to. Everybody in the state’s counts are down and courts are being delayed and behind. There’s a whole lot of people in the system waiting. We are working back to it slowly and safely though.”
Lewis said the jail normally holds anywhere between a population of 400 to 425, depending on weekend arrests and other factors.
Anna Agnes Whitefield was taught growing up to help those in need, and she is continuing with that mindset as she celebrates her 10st birthday today.
“What I remember is to treat everybody right and they would treat me right,” said Whitefield.
Born in White Plains in 1920 to Claude and Maddie Elizabeth Putman, Whitefield said she doesn’t remember either of her parents giving her a spanking.
“I had a good Daddy, and I had a good Mother,” she said.
Whitefield married and had two daughters, who still live in Hopkins County. She recalls her husband fondly.
Henrietta Buffington, one of Whitefield’s daughters, said as a little girl she remembered moving to Mishawaka, Indiana during World War II, so her mom could work in the Ball-Band rubber factory making boots for the military. Buffington said she and her mother lived with a sister and brother who also worked in the factory.
“One had the first shift, one had the second shift, and one had the third shift. Someone was always home with me,” she said.
Whitefield said back then everybody worked together and tried to plan things out so they could have a good living and take care of their children.
Buffington said her mother was the neighborhood chauffeur — taking people to and from doctor’s appointments since no one else in the area knew how to drive.
She liked to care for some of the children in the neighborhood who could not afford much, said Buffington.
“She bought clothes and she bought toys for children, but they never knew where they came from,” said Buffington. “She always wanted to help those who could not help themselves.”
The children in the neighborhood would come by the Whitefield house to play because there was a huge yard. Buffington said her mother would come outside to play with everyone.
“Their mothers often didn’t come out and play with them, but my mother did go out and play ball or whatever games we were playing,” she said. “We had campouts and we had meals out in the back. They just loved her.”
In celebrating her birthday, Buffington recalled that Whitefield was named after an Aunt Annie who lived to be 102 or 103. She said her mother now wants to live to be 106 years old.
Officials with the Hopkins County Health Department and Baptist Health Madisonville are continuing to encourage people to wear masks in group settings.
Health Department Director Denise Beach said the mask mandate is still in effect.
“It is the law that you wear a mask when you are out in public. It is not a personal choice,” said Beach.
Kristy Quinn, marketing and public relations director with the hospital, said they are also seeing more people not masking anymore.
“We still encourage masking when you are around people outside of your immediate household until more people have taken the vaccine and we can reach some form of herd immunity,” she said.
Quinn and Beach said they are concerned about potential a surge from Spring Break and the Easter holiday.
Quinn said there are six COVID-19 positive patients in the hospital as of Monday with one in the Critical Care Unit. COVID-19 cases are almost 6% of the hospital’s total patient population.
“While this number is still in the single digits, it is double where we were last week and the full impact of Easter and Spring Break has not been seen yet,” she said.
The Health Department has reported 33 new COVID-19 cases since April 5, with 78 active cases. There have been 3,937 people who have recovered from COVID-19 and 139 COVID-19-related deaths in the county.
Beach said with the U.K. variant found in Hopkins County last week — masks, vaccinations and eventually herd immunity are the keys to protection.
“We need to get herd immunity because the longer the variants are out there, the more chance they have to replicate and mutate where the vaccine may not work for them,” she said.
Beach said the Health Department’s mobile clinic is focusing on vaccinating the Hopkins County Jail this week.
“We will announce it on our Facebook page if we go somewhere else this week,” she said.
The Health Department is vaccinating anyone 18 years old and older five days a week through appointments.
Quinn said the hospital will start scheduling more first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Any second doses will remain scheduled as they were so we will not fully be down to three days per week until sometime in mid-May,” she said.
The hospital is averaging about 200-250 vaccine doses a day for anyone 16 years and older.
To sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment through the Health Department, visit https://www.hopkins cohealthdept.com/coronavirus- vaccination- information/. For the hospital, visit schedule yourvaccine.com or call 270-825-7330.
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (AP) — The police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, as the man struggled with police, the city’s police chief said Monday.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting death Sunday of 20-year-old Daunte Wright as “an accidental discharge.” It happened as police were trying to arrest Wright on an outstanding warrant. The shooting sparked violent protests in a metropolitan area already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
“I'll Tase you! I'll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” the officer is heard shouting on her body cam footage released at a news conference. She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.
After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away, and the officer is heard saying, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”
President Joe Biden urged calm on Monday, following a night where officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators. The president said he watched the body camera footage.
“We do know that the anger, pain and trauma amidst the Black community is real,” Biden said from the Oval Office. But, he added, that “does not justify violence and looting.”
The governor instituted another dusk-to-dawn curfew, and law enforcement agencies stepped up their presence across the Minneapolis area. The number of Minnesota National Guard troops was expected to more than double to over 1,000 by Monday night.
While dozens of officers in riot gear and troops guarded the Brooklyn Center police station, more than 100 protesters chanted Wright’s name and hoisted signs that read “Why did Daunte die?” and “Don’t shoot.” Some passing cars flew Black Lives Matter flags out of their windows and honked in support.
Organizers from the Movement for Black Lives, a national coalition of more than 150 Black-led political and advocacy groups, pointed to Wright’s killing as yet another reason why cities must take up proposals for defunding an “irreparably broken, racist system.”
Wright “should not have had his life ripped from him last night. The fact that police killed him just miles from where they murdered George Floyd last year is a slap in the face to an entire community who continues to grieve,” said Karissa Lewis, the coalition’s national field director.
Gannon said at a news conference that the officer made a mistake, and he released the body camera footage less than 24 hours after the shooting.
The footage showed three officers around a stopped car, which authorities said was pulled over because it had expired registration tags. When another officer attempts to handcuff Wright, a second officer tells Wright he's being arrested on a warrant. That's when the struggle begins, followed by the shooting. Then the car travels several blocks before striking another vehicle.
“As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s command, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," Gannon said. "This appears to me from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.”
A female passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the crash, authorities said. Katie Wright said that passenger was her son’s girlfriend.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was investigating.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said any decision on charges against the officer will be made by the Washington County attorney under an agreement adopted last year by several county prosecutors aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest. Freeman has been frequently criticized by activists in Minneapolis over his charging decisions involving deadly use of force by police.
Gannon would not name the officer or provide any other details about her, including her race, other than describing her as "very senior.” He would not say whether she would be fired following the investigation.
“I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning," the chief said.
Court records show Wright was being sought after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June. In that case, a statement of probable cause said police got a call about a man waving a gun who was later identified as Wright.”
Wright's mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her as he was getting pulled over.
“All he did was have air fresheners in the car, and they told him to get out of the car,” Wright said. During the call, she said she heard scuffling and then someone saying “Daunte, don’t run” before the call ended. When she called back, her son’s girlfriend answered and said he had been shot.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole," he said.
Elliott later announced that the city council had voted to give his office “command authority" over the police department.
This “will streamline things and establish a chain of command and leadership,” he wrote on Twitter. He also said the city manager had been fired, and that the deputy city manager would be taking over his roles.
According to the city's charter, the city manager has control of the police department. Now-former City Manager Curt Boganey, speaking earlier Monday to reporters, said the officer who shot Wright would get “due process."
Wright's family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family in its $27 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis.
“This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane,” Crump said in a statement. “What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of color?”
Speaking before the unrest Sunday night, Wright’s mother urged protesters in Brooklyn Center, a city of about 30,000 people on the northwest border of Minneapolis, to stay peaceful and focused on the loss of her son.
Biden referred to her comments on Monday, saying "we should listen to Daunte’s mom calling for peace and calm.” The president said he had not yet called the family but that his prayers were with them.
Shortly after the shooting, demonstrators began to gather, with some jumping atop police cars. Marchers also descended on the Brooklyn Center Police Department, where rocks and other objects were thrown at officers. About 20 businesses were broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping center, authorities said.
To guard against more unrest, authorities accelerated security measures planned for when the Floyd case goes to the jury. Gov. Tim Walz warned anyone who chooses to “exploit these tragedies” with violence “can rest assured that the largest police presence in Minnesota history” will be prepared to arrest law breakers.
At least a half-dozen businesses began boarding up their windows along Minneapolis’ Lake Street, the scene of some of the most intense violence after Floyd's death. National Guard vehicles were deployed to a few major intersections, and a handful of soldiers in camouflage, some carrying assault-style weapons, could also be seen. Several professional sports teams in Minneapolis called off games because of safety concerns.
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in Floyd’s death, continued Monday. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck. Prosecutors say Floyd was pinned for 9 minutes, 29 seconds. The judge in that case refused Monday to sequester the jury after a defense attorney argued that the panel could be influenced by the prospect of what might happen as a result of their verdict.
Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Tim Sullivan in Minneapolis, Aaron Morrison in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Jonathan Lemire in Washington contributed to this report.
Mohamed Ibrahim is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.