North Dakota officials update citizens on Coronavirus


(Editor’s Note: The full press conference audio can be heard here.)

State leaders, ranging from Governor Doug Burgum to state health officials, gathered Tuesday afternoon for a press conference on COVID-19, or the Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Dr. Mylynn Tufte, State Health Officer, says the risk of a pandemic is low—partially because of the containment of cases.

Christie Massen, with the state’s microbiology lab, says that, as of Tuesday morning, the state’s laboratory is “prepared to test individuals (presenting symptoms of COVID-19).” Kirby Kruger, state director of disease control for the North Dakota Department of Health, says the CDC hopes to get up to 40 more states ready to test for COVID-19.

He says there are no individuals under investigation currently in the state of North Dakota, a designation given by the CDC, under strict guidelines. He says there have been no individuals tested in North Dakota. There are two that the department is “currently monitoring,” and 15 monitored to date. 13 of the 15 have completed their monitoring and require no further testing.

Testing consists of two swabs—nasopharyngeal and oralpharyngeal. On average, Massen says the test results should come back within five hours, with up to two hours taking for the test itself. If a positive result comes back, Massen says the department would send the specimen to the CDC.

As far as the education sector, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Kirsten Baesler says the department is closely monitoring the situation.

“I would encourage our local school leaders to be in contact with their local county health units,” Baesler says. “And then communicate with the parents of the schools.”

She says the state is ready to coordinate a response, if it becomes necessary.

North Dakota University System Chancellor, Dr. Mark Hagerott, says any students who have traveled to areas affected by COVID-19 are being asked to not come to campus and self-quarantine at home.

Hagerott says approximately 200 students are overseas.