Gov. Doug Burgum today was joined by local leaders in announcing a new Red River Valley COVID-19 Task Force to address an increasing concentration of COVID-19 case numbers in Cass County.
Cass County continues to post the highest percentage of positive tests in the state at an average positive rate of 9.6 percent for the last 14 days, significantly higher than the statewide rate of 2.8 percent, Burgum noted.
“While we have expanded testing and deployed rapid response teams to Cass County, we can do more to slow the spread of COVID-19 in North Dakota’s largest metro area,” Burgum said. “We’re grateful to these local leaders and health care officials for their partnership and dedication to protecting public health and saving lives and livelihoods.”
The Red River Valley COVID-19 Task Force will work to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, dedicating state and county resources to assist in three primary areas:
- Prevention measures and testing, including a focused testing strategy that will focus on high-risk populations, including residents and staff in long-term care facilities and congregate living settings. The testing strategy was developed with local public health officials, the state’s advising physicians and North Dakota Department of Health Disease Control experts.
- Contact tracing, expanding the number of individuals doing contact tracing including engaging local nonprofit organizations to assist.
- Support for isolation and quarantine, increasing access to community resources and wrap around services for non-hospitalized positive COVID-19 cases and their close contacts.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis and Cass County Commission Chairman Chad Peterson will serve on the task force and joined Burgum via videoconference for the announcement at today’s COVID-19 press briefing. Desi Flemming, director of Fargo Cass Public Health, will chair the task force. Other members include:
- Doug Murphy, regional coordinator, Fargo Cass Public Health Emergency Preparedness
- Nicole Crutchfield, Fargo Planning Department
- Tammy Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Governor’s Office
- Mylynn Tufte, State Health Officer
- Chris Jones, Executive Director, North Dakota Department of Human Services.
The task force plans to coordinate with representatives from Clay County, Minn., and the State of Minnesota, as success will depend on an integrated plan, Burgum said.