In a COVID-19 briefing with the state health department, Governor Doug Burgum expressed his gratitude to North Dakotans for their collective efforts in slowing the spread of the virus.
Burgum says North Dakota is one of only five states where virus data is trending downward – lower numbers of new cases, and lower positivity rate. North Dakota’s 14 day rolling positivity average has also trended downward as well.
Despite the optimism, Burgum says contact tracers have so far identified 576 people who have tested positive and say they attended Thanksgiving gatherings. He urged the public to limit travel and gathering over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays.
"We're so close - vaccines are on the way, the first shipments are coming to North Dakota soon. But this is the home stretch for us, as North Dakotans, to participate in mitigation that saves lives and livelihoods."
Burgum says North Dakota is joining White House public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control in asking anyone over the age of 65 to not enter any place where anyone is unmasked. He also says anyone who gathered over the Thanksgiving holiday – especially those under the age of 40 – can assume they may be infected, and should get tested.
The governor says the executive order that mandates face coverings is being extended to January 18th, and restrictions placed on bars, restaurants, ballrooms and other public gatherings are being extended til January 8th. He says this is designed to account for the 14-day incubation period of COVID-19. High school activities and winter sports will resume December 14.
"We're asking with these extensions - these are not forever. Certainly the actions we've taken already have helped us save the winter sports season, but we've got a big light at the end of the tunnel and the light at the end of the tunnel is the amazing advances in modern biosciences that have delivered for us multiple effective vaccines, and we are close to the beginning of distributing that. If we can limit the impacts of covid by taking individual responsibility, and demonstrating what we've always done as North Dakotans, which is caring for our fellow North Dakotans, the individual choices we can make can truly save lives."