Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 02:30pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and other state officials today provided an update and highlighted statewide efforts in response to COVID-19. No cases have been reported in North Dakota and the risk remains low; however, ongoing community spread has been identified in multiple other states. North Dakotans play a key role in reducing the impact of COVID-19 in the state.

“It is highly likely that COVID-19 will spread to North Dakota in the future. Right now our focus is preparation, not panic,” Burgum said. “State agencies are working together with key federal and local partners to prepare and respond. North Dakotans are encouraged to take steps to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy. Child care facilities, schools, universities, businesses, individuals and communities will play a key role in reducing the impact of COVID-19 on North Dakota.”

"The most important thing North Dakotans can do right now to help prevent the spread of disease is to avoid non-essential international travel to countries with ongoing community spread," said Mylynn Tufte, State Health Officer. "In addition, individuals should wash their hands often, clean surfaces regularly, and stay home when sick."

The NDDoH recommends the general public not purchase masks, as misuse of masks may increase the risk of getting COVID-19 due to mishandling. Additionally, purchasing masks takes needed masks away from frontline health care providers.

The NDDoH has developed an online survey for people who have traveled internationally within the past 14 days to complete. Upon completion of the survey, North Dakotans will receive information about how to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if symptoms develop. The survey is available at www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus.

The NDDoH also announced that the NDDoH Division of Microbiology can now test for COVID-19. “Not everyone with respiratory symptoms should be tested, as influenza is also circulating,” according to Kirby Kruger, Medical Services Section Chief. “Only individuals with an appropriate international travel history, those with contact to a known case of COVID-19 or those hospitalized with unexplained severe respiratory disease are recommended to be tested at this time. If people are concerned they may have COVID-19, they are encouraged to contact their health care provider before going to a clinic or hospital to prevent transmission in the health care facility.”

North Dakotans can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • The NDDoH recommends North Dakotans avoid nonessential international travel to China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. North Dakotans who have chronic health conditions or who are elderly should avoid travel to Japan.
  • The NDDoH recommends universities consider postponing or cancelling foreign exchange programs.
  • Completing the travel self-assessment survey. North Dakotans should watch for symptoms of a respiratory illness for 14 days after returning from international travel.
  • Washing hands often with soap and water.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, eating healthy foods, and managing your stress can help you prevent getting COVID-19 and help you recover from it if you do.
  • If you develop symptoms:
    • Call your health care provider immediately and tell them about your recent travel or exposure.
    • Avoid contact with other people.
    • Follow the directions of your provider and public health officials.

Symptoms of the COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

For the most updated and timely information and updates related to COVID-19, visit the NDDoH website at www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus, follow the NDDoH on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.