At his daily COVID-19 briefing this afternoon, Governor Doug Burgum said tomorrow's test result numbers will include one more death related to the novel coronavirus.
Burgum says the death was a man in his 70s from Emmons County who acquired the virus by community spread. The statewide death total now stands at four.
Burgum says work is continuing to raise hospital capacity, as North Dakota's COVID-19 peak may not hit til May or June. He says right now only 19 of the state's 2,600 hospital beds are being utilized by COVID-19 patients - but in the coming weeks, that will change. He urges people to continue to practice good hygiene and practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, and says he continues to hear anecdotal stories of North Dakotans ignoring those recommendations.
"This is not the flu. This is 15 times more deadly for people with underlying health conditions which include diabetes, heart disease, obesity, other chronic health diseases this can have a higher mortality rate. And we're not talking about a few people in North Dakota - we're talking about over 20 percent of the population of North Dakota would fall into that category of folks that are considered to be the most vulnerable."
Burgum says he is not yet ready to issue an executive order to shelter in place - but he is issuing two new executive orders as of today. The first is to order all patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 to quarantine at home for at least 14 days. Burgum says that order is also extended to anyone living in a household with someone who tested positive. The other executive order coming down today suspends visitation at long term care facilities. He says this is an obvious move that will protect the state's elderly.
"There are many other states that have had deadly outbreaks in nursing homes, there are other states that have got dozens and dozens of nursing homes that have had patients who are COVID positive. We have been very fortunate here."
Burgum says 735 samples were taken at the surveillance pilot locations over the weekend. He says the results from those tests will be back by Wednesday of this week.