Burgum: focus on increased testing, North Dakota Smart guidelines as virus cases rise | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Burgum: focus on increased testing, North Dakota Smart guidelines as virus cases rise

Jul 28, 2020

At his weekly coronavirus briefing, Governor Doug Burgum says over the last seven days North Dakota has reached some sobering milestones.

Burgum says active cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in the state, with active cases remaining over a thousand for the last three days in a row. The state's 100th death was also recorded - a woman in her 20s, who became the third North Dakotan to pass away with the virus and having no underlying health issues.

Despite the numbers, Burgum says the state's official risk level remains low - but is moving toward a more elevated risk level. He says now is the time to employ "North Dakota Smart."

"We know from our contact tracing that if people who've been exposed don't isolate - it's one of the reasons why this disease keeps spreading. So that's why the basic principles we've been talking about in terms of social distancing or isolation work well for slowing the spread."

Burgum says in addition to social distancing, good hand hygiene and wearing a mask in more crowded scenarios can stop the spread of COVID-19.

He says other states like Arizona and Texas that began reopening their economies at the same time as North Dakota are now looking at shutting them down again - and he doesn't want that to happen here.

"It's not what government says, but it's about what people do. And if people want bars and gyms to stay open - then be North Dakota Smart. If you wanna be able to have weddings and funerals, then we need to be North Dakota Smart when we're having these."

Burgum says most of the new infections are turning up in what he calls "the social crowds" of people in their 20s and 30s. He says the state continues to work toward opening more testing labs in the state so not as much dependence is on the state lab in Bismarck, which has been processing at least 80 percent of all the tests. There are currently 19 testing sites across the state, with a goal of 28 being set up total. He says the next daily testing goal is to be able to test 8,000 people a day.