North Dakota hits new single-day high for COVID-19 cases with 28; total approaches 400
BISMARCK — North Dakota saw a new spike in COVID-19 cases after 28 additional people tested positive for the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, Gov. Doug Burgum said Thursday during his daily press briefing.
No new deaths have been reported from the illness, but the number of North Dakotans who have tested positive is now approaching 400.
Thirteen of the new cases are individuals under the age of 40, he said, and one was under the age of 10.
North Dakota still has one of the lowest numbers of positive cases, but with the higher number of positive cases the past couple of days, Burgum acknowledged that “we’re still on the rising part of the curve.”
Thursday was the largest single-day increase of reported cases so far, followed by Wednesday, which had 24 new cases, according to the North Dakota Department of Health.
Out of the state total of 11,704 people who have been tested for COVID-19, 393 have tested positive. Fourteen people are hospitalized due to the illness and 163 people who previously tested positive have recovered.
Nine people in North Dakota have died from the virus since mid-March, according to the health department.
A majority of the new cases are in Cass County, where 152 people have tested positive for the virus. However, Burgum said as the largest per-capita population the Fargo metro area has dropped below the state average. A hotspot now is the northwest part of the state, which continues to see an increase in positive cases.
It’s unclear how many, if any, of the three new reported cases in Grand Forks County are linked to the LM Wind Power facility. There have been nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the facility, but information about where those individuals are from has not been released at this time.
Thursday afternoon, public health officials, along with assistance from the North Dakota National Guard, conducted tests for people who have had close contact with those who have tested positive, such as other household members.
Production at the plant has stopped as crews work to disinfect the facility, according to General Electric, the company that owns LM Wind Power. The company has not said how long the facility will be closed.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in extreme western North Dakota, announced Thursday that it will be closing until May 9 amid the pandemic.
Additionally, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced that it has begun a survey to learn more about how the pandemic is affecting communities across the state. That can be taken at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NDCOVIDCommunityImpact .
Burgum said five CDC community protection members visited Grand Forks to help with the testing at the LM facility, but it’s not the infections that drew them there. They arrived in the state because North Dakota was chosen by the CDC because of its low incident rate. They came to learn and to share best practices, including prevention and control and contact tracing issues.
Burgum also announced an amendment to a previous executive order concerning worker compensation, which he backdated to March 13 and allows funeral directors and mortuary workers to receive compensation if they become ill and can prove the virus resulted from their duties as essential workers. Workers can apply online at workforcesafety.com
Burgum on Wednesday extended the mandatory closure of certain businesses, citing that music venues, gyms, movie theaters, massage and tattoo parlors and hair and nail salons will remain closed until at least April 30. Restaurants and bars are still permitted to offer drive-thru, takeout and delivery services but cannot serve patrons in-house.
Earlier on Thursday, Burgum, along with 54 other governors, met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence about plans to reopen the country.
Burgum said discussion involved governors being able to make the decision on when to open their states, and in some cases perhaps even the counties.
He expressed appreciation to North Dakotans, urging them to continue social distancing and other health and hygiene practices.
“The steps that we have taken work,” he said. “It’s not because there wasn’t a threat. The threat of the coronavirus is just as strong as it was six weeks ago and three months ago. It’s still a deadly virus, it’s still just as contagious, it still could spread, it still could come back and we could still have another surge. So again, our ability to reopen depends on our diligence on maintaining these practices that we talked about. Many of these practices will continue even after we reopen.”
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