BISMARCK — North Dakota has 13 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Gov. Doug Burgum said at a press conference on Thursday, March 26, that the state has 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 45 on Wednesday.
“This is our biggest increase yet,” he said, noting that 11 people have been hospitalized with the illness in North Dakota.
One of the new cases was a child in McIntosh County, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. On March 18, the state confirmed the virus in a Morton County girl age 10-19.
Burgum said it is assumed that the numbers of positive cases will continue to rise in the state in the coming days.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not there’s zero positives reported in a county,” the governor said. “By the end of the week we will assume with the rate of spread that we will have positive cases in every county.”
Burgum said one concern is not having enough medical supplies, but promised the state is “working around the clock” to meet the challenges.
So far, 2,261 people have been tested in North Dakota; 2,203 tests have come back negative.
Burgum did not issue an executive order on Thursday, but said there will be changes to elections and tax filings, the latter being delayed until July 15 “without any fear of penalty,” according to Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger.
Among the changes for elections, the state is waiving the requirement to have at least one physical polling location during a primary election in counties that use mail ballots, though he said counties have the ability to opt out.
He also said unemployment claims in the state continue to rise, with just under 14,000 insurance and benefit claims filed in nine days.
Burgum also discussed operating guidelines for child care providers during the pandemic, saying efforts are being made to protect child care providers so their businesses are not only functional now but also after the pandemic.
A boy from McIntosh County was listed among those infected, according to the health department. The child is between the ages of 0-9. Other new cases include five from Burleigh County, three from Stark County, two from Cass County, and one each from McIntosh, McHenry and Ward counties.
The McHenry County case was a result of community spread, according to the health department. Most of the cases so far have come from Burleigh and Morton counties.
On Wednesday Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an order that residents shelter in place beginning at 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 27.
For now, there is no shelter-in-place order for North Dakota residents.
Earlier in the day, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford said there were no plans to immediately issue a shelter-in-place order for North Dakota residents, though that may change as the situation evolves.
Sanford made the remarks to address concerns of North Dakotans located in the eastern part of the state — where many work in Minnesota and are wondering what will happen to them should the order be given. He made the remarks via teleconference call to a gathering of nearly 1,000 members of the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.
“I can tell you that's not the direction that we're headed today,” Sanford said. “We feel that the restrictions on moving around and the restrictions in the public spaces that have happened, to date, are where we want to be today, so hopefully that answers that question.”
Sanford said North Dakota residents and businesses are self-regulating the situation by practicing social distancing and “correct flu etiquettes.”
“These are things that we're doing as North Dakotans and we feel that really is limiting the community spread,” Sanford said. “We're doing a good job with that, and we want to continue forward with that direction.”
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