Monday, March 30, 2020 - 07:30 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today called on North Dakotans to take the coronavirus crisis seriously and step up social distancing efforts as the state Department of Health reported two additional deaths related to COVID-19.

Burgum extended his sympathies to the families and friends of those who passed away: a woman in her 80s from McHenry County and a man in his 70s from Morton County. Both had underlying health conditions and acquired COVID-19 through community spread, meaning the source of infection was unknown.

“As we are all in this together, the First Lady and I want to send our condolences to those families for the loss of their loved ones, because we know that it affects not only them but the communities and the whole state,” Burgum said during today’s afternoon press briefing. “This is a harsh but important reminder that we need to take this virus seriously and do our part to prevent the spread.”

The North Dakota Department of Health today confirmed 11 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 109 confirmed cases. Nineteen individuals have been hospitalized and 20 have recovered. A total of 3,909 tests have been completed.

Despite broad and consistent messaging about the need for people to practice social distancing, as well as executive orders aimed at limiting large gatherings and person-to-person contact at businesses, Burgum said there continues to be reports of people gathering in large groups and not heeding social distancing guidelines. He urged North Dakotans to stay home if they’re sick, avoid unnecessary travel, refrain from holding gatherings of 10 people or more, and frequently wash their hands.

Burgum signed two executive orders today and amended an earlier executive order:

  • The amended order allows certain public school districts to open facilities through the month of May, for the limited purpose of providing child care services to children in grades K-5 only, for K-12 teachers and other health, safety and lifeline worker households, as identified by the Department of Human Services.
  • In consultation with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Burgum signed a new executive order that suspends the open meeting requirement of a physical meeting room and a speakerphone or monitor at a physical location, when members of the governing body are attending remotely. Meetings of a governing body where members appear by remote means must provide a conference dial-in number or an electronic link to real-time or livestream public access.
  • The other new executive order allows temporary suspension of deadlines for public libraries to submit state aid applications and reports. It also extends the deadlines for livestock auction licensing and pesticide application licensing.

Burgum was joined at today’s press briefing by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and Sen. Kevin Cramer, who discussed details of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the relief it will provide for North Dakotans.

Burgum, Hoeven, Cramer, U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and other state and federal officials also held a conference call with more than 100 agriculture commodity groups, auctioneers, implement dealers, motor carriers, bankers and credit service about COVID-19 response and programs.