North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, among other state leaders, briefed the public on Wednesday afternoon in regards to the continuing COVID-19, or Coronavirus, pandemic that is hitting the state, country and nation.

Governor Burgum says that, as of this afternoon, there have been seven confirmed cases of COVID-19, with two of them being due to ‘community spread’, which, he said, means that the source of infection is unknown. The other cases are due to travel, Burgum said. He says the state’s most likely to be impacted population, the elderly, make up a significant part of the state’s population. He says 18,000 of North Dakota’s residents are 85 or older.

In addition to closing schools, which was a move made last weekend, Burgum said officials are “strongly recommending gyms, movie theaters and other places should strongly consider closing.” He was quick to mention, however, that “we are not doing a mandated closure, which we will be evaluating on a day-by-day basis.”

State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte says 362 people have been tested as of today. But, she warns, not everyone should be tested.

“Individuals seeking medical advice should call their primary provider,” she said.

Pam Sagness, Director of North Dakota’s Behavioral Health Division, says resources for dealing with stress surrounding COVID-19 are available through her agency’s website, by going to https://www.behavioralhealth.nd.gov/covid-19.

Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer was also in attendance.

“"We are identifying and redirecting financial resources to support you," Kommer said.

Kommer announced that the Small Business Administration (SBA) has made seven billion dollars available to small businesses anticipating stress. Loans can be used for working capital. Kommer says she anticipates applications to be available as soon as this evening, and that they are on a first come, first serve, basis.

"This is a rapidly evolving matter. Our state is strong, and working with the unified team, our strength will grow,” she said.