Governor Burgum updates North Dakotans on COVID-19


Governor Doug Burgum says the state is looking for more data when making decisions surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In an interview with WZFG’s Scott Hennen on the statewide What’s On Your Mind radio show, Burgum says officials would like more COVID-19 tests done in the state. As of late Monday afternoon, 124 people have been tested, with only one positive case. There are 22 people being currently monitored for COVID-19.

“We were excited yesterday that we had 11 tests, they all came back negative,” he said. These were people showing symptoms and feeling sick. “They had been possibly screened for Influenza A.”

Burgum says he would like to, if ever possible, begin using ‘drive through tests’, which are tests being done in other states, where people don’t have to leave their vehicle.

“Doing the test outside a facility is one way to keep the infection from that,” he says. The closest place doing the ‘drive through tests’ is at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. They began the rapid testing last Thursday. More than 200 people were tested in one day.

“If we had that capability, we could get a broader set of people tested,” Burgum said. He says that would help reduce the fear and take away stress from people’s lives

The lone positive case is a man from Ward County, who had been traveling and was with someone who he knew had tested positive for the virus.

“He’s resting at home, comfortably,” Burgum said. “The symptoms are mild.”

He says officials know, based on the test data from other countries, that “test data is lagging.” People might have been exposed five or 10 days before testing positive, he said.

“We are trying to get ahead of the curve,” Burgum said. “What we’re really trying to do here is reduce contact and spread of a highly infectious virus.”

People who are elderly or have high susceptibility to respiratory illnesses are the groups officials are trying to protect. Burgum says students in K-12 are at a lesser risk for COVID-19.

There is a chance that the cases could increase ‘exponentially’, as Burgum says, and that would create a shortage of room in intensive care units, ventilators or isolation areas. The shortage of workers in the healthcare industry could also play an adverse effect, he says. Slowing down the rate of infection would help alleviate these possible concerns, according to Burgum.

“By social distancing and closing the schools, we are trying to buy time for our medical community to really assess,” he said. Medical facilities are assessing equipment and staffing.

As far as bars and restaurants are concerns, Burgum says officials are asking for “individual responsibility.” He says the state needs businesses to continue to remain open, whether it be businesses that sell gas, food or supplies.