BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) tested 32 samples for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Saturday and all test results were negative. That brings the state’s total number of tested cases to 86 negative and one positive, with six pending.
This morning, Gov. Doug Burgum convened members of the state’s COVID-19 Unified Command, which the governor activated Friday as he declared a state of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus public health crisis. The Unified Command is led by State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte and the state’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann. Members include Cabinet leaders, State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott.
Members discussed actions taken so far to prevent and slow the spread of coronavirus and how to continue and expand upon the efforts of the Department of Health’s Emergency Operations Center, which has been in place since January.
Burgum emphasized that while a state of emergency has been declared to remove hurdles and provide maximum flexibility in accessing state and federal resources, North Dakota remains in a “state of calm.” The state is taking a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to protecting the public and ensuring that citizens are well-informed with clear and accurate information from the state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center.
Actions taken to prevent, contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 include:
- The governor, NDDoH and Department of Public Instruction issued guidance for K-12 schools, including recommendations based on four situations with varying risk levels. The NDDoH does not recommend child care or school closures if COVID-19 cases are not occurring in the community or school. As of Saturday there were no reported cases of community transmission of COVID-19 in North Dakota. Schools should follow CDC guidance regarding preparing for COVID-19. Guidance includes monitoring absenteeism, keeping sick children out, ensuring handwashing, environmental cleaning and communicating with parents.
- Recommendations also were released for holding, canceling or postponing events and public gatherings based on three levels of risk, or thresholds.
- Over the past week, the NDDoH hosted several virtual meetings with more than 3,500 total participants to provide updates on COVID-19, answer questions and recommend action steps they can take to prepare. These groups include health care, physicians, long-term care, business, faith-based organizations, K-12 education, university systems, corrections and rehabilitation, tribal partners, community leaders and others.
- The NDDoH also issued a memo Thursday to long-term care providers supporting limited access to nursing homes as recommended by the American Health Care Association.
- On Thursday, the NDDoH launched the COVID-19 Health Hotline. The public can call 1-866-207-2880 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- In an effort to streamline testing, the NDDoH sent a health alert to North Dakota health care providers on Friday stating that providers no longer need to call the NDDoH Division of Disease Control prior to testing.
- The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) suspended contact visitation, as well as the admission of new residents until March 23. On that date the DOCR plans to re-open admissions with a screening process, strategy for testing, intake processing and areas for holding/quarantining for 14 days, when needed.
- The Department of Transportation has doubled cleaning efforts in public areas including rest stops, Driver’s License and Motor Vehicle locations.
- The Department of Commerce has temporarily redirected personnel and financial resources to support businesses and communities affected economically by the coronavirus pandemic, including offering support with state and federal programs.
- North Dakota Information Technology is taking multiple steps to ensure that state team members have the software and technology they need to work remotely if needed due to coronavirus.
- Information about coronavirus-related response by the North Dakota University System and the state’s 11 public colleges and universities can be found here.
For the most updated and timely information and updates related to COVID-19, visit the NDDoH website at www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus , follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
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