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COVID-19 testing events open to public slated for Fargo this week

Similar events will be coming to Bismarck, Grand Forks and Minot on Thursdays and Fridays in the coming weeks, Burgum said.

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A North Dakota National Guard member collects a specimen from people directed to report for coronavirus testing at the Fargodome on April 25 in Fargo. Forum file photo

BISMARCK — Healthy members of the public over 12 years of age will be able to get tested for COVID-19 free of cost in Fargo later this week.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced Wednesday, June 10, state and local health officials will run two mass testing events at the Fargodome's west parking lot from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday of this week.

Those wishing to get tested can drive or walk up to the site. Burgum said there is no insurance or proof of residency required to get tested, so residents of Minnesota can also attend. Burgum urged people seeking a test to take an online screening survey beforehand at testreg.nd.gov , which he said will speed up the process since attendees would otherwise have to take it on-site.

Unlike previous mass testing events, Burgum said there will not be a predetermined limit to the available number of tests, and the state will provide "as many as they need." The actual tests will be administered with oral swabs in a similar manner to a strep throat test.

Those who test positive will be notified by phone within 24 to 72 hours, and those who test negative will be notified within 72 hours.

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Similar events will be coming to Bismarck, Grand Forks and Minot on Thursdays and Fridays in the coming weeks, Burgum said.

The governor said he recognized the events will be less accessible to many people who work normal hours or don't have cars. He said the state will "adjust as necessary" to ensure they can also get tested in the future.

North Dakota ranks among the top states in the country in testing per capita but has hit Burgum's goal of processing at least 4,000 tests per day only once in the last week. Burgum has repeatedly said the state has the capacity to meet the goal, but demand for testing under the rigid criteria has not allowed officials to test enough people.

The move back toward testing of healthy people is part of an effort to open up the current criteria, which heavily prioritizes testing for vulnerable people, those who work around them and residents showing symptoms of the illness. Burgum has also floated the idea of testing college students, sports teams, attendees of religious services and patrons of bars and restaurants.

Earlier in the day, the North Dakota Department of Health on announced 40 new cases of COVID-19.

Twenty-eight of the new cases Wednesday came from Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo. The county now has had 1,958 known cases, but the department reports that more than four in five of the residents who once had the illness in the county have recovered. More than 65% of the currently infected North Dakotans reside in Cass County.

The other 12 new cases Wednesday came from Burleigh, Kidder, LaMoure, Richland and Stutsman counties.

The department on Wednesday announced the death of a Cass County county woman in her 80s from the illness.

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Like nearly every other victim of the illness, the department said the woman had underlying health conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says older adults and people with HIV, diabetes, asthma, liver disease or other conditions that compromise one's immune system are at a greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. However, old age itself is not considered an underlying condition.

The department says 73 North Dakotans have died from the illness, all but 12 of whom were residents of Cass County. Fifty-five of the deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Medical professionals listed COVID-19 as the official cause of death for 64 of the state's victims. Eight were determined to have died primarily because of another condition while infected with COVID-19, and one more death record is pending. The department also notes that three people not included in the official death count were presumed to have died from COVID-19 but did not test positive while they were alive.

A total of 2,941 North Dakota residents have tested positive, but 2,482 have recovered. There are 33 residents hospitalized with the illness, up one from Tuesday.

A total of 119,728 tests have been performed, but some residents have been tested more than once. Burgum said the state is performing regular testing of those living and working in nursing homes.

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Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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