BISMARCK — Several states and the District of Columbia have instituted mandatory quarantine orders that apply to visitors from North Dakota and other states where COVID-19 infection rates are climbing.
Rising active cases and testing positivity rates over the last month have put North Dakota in the company of about 30 other states, including Texas and Florida, that are deemed by recovering East Coast states to be "high risk" areas.
North Dakota residents will be required to self-quarantine, usually for 14 days, upon entering:
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
- New Mexico
The quarantine orders each have unique approaches to enforcement, but all make exceptions for essential workers and those on short flight layovers. Massachusetts' order and a few others allow visitors to forgo or shorten their required quarantine period if they can show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the capital city's order on Monday, July 27, with a list that includes North Dakota and 26 other states. Minnesotans and South Dakotans can still visit the city without having to quarantine.
North Dakota was added last week to the joint quarantine order for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on the same day that Minnesota was removed from the "restricted" list. Rhode Island's list of high-risk states includes North Dakota and South Dakota, but Minnesota is left off.
The quarantine orders in D.C. and the New York area include states with a positive COVID-19 test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents based on a weeklong rolling average. Forum News Service calculations suggest North Dakota has surpassed the threshold during the last two weeks, though North Dakota does not regularly share a figure to indicate its average rate of positive tests over an extended period of time.
Meanwhile, orders in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Mexico are more broad and include quarantine requirements for virtually all vacationers from outside of their respective state borders or regions.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said at a press conference last week he respects states' rights to make their own decisions on travel orders, but he noted that he hopes those conclusions are reached using the right data.
Mike Nowatzki, a spokesman for Burgum, said North Dakota's robust testing and contact operations are likely contributing to its inclusion in other states' travel quarantine orders because more widespread testing results in the discovery of more cases. The state ranks 10th among all states and D.C. in testing per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University.
However, Burgum noted last week that the state is "not heading in the right direction" with the rise in active cases outpacing the growth in testing capacity. There are now more than 1,050 residents infected with the illness — the highest point of the pandemic.
Former State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte issued a quarantine order in late March for travelers entering North Dakota from states with high rates of community spread, but the order was later amended to apply only to international travelers entering the state. State health officials have said reimplementing such an order hasn't been taken off the table but isn't the preferred route.
Minnesota and South Dakota have never instituted travel quarantine orders of any kind.