Burgum talks testing, DOT reopening, COVID-19 treatment | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Burgum talks testing, DOT reopening, COVID-19 treatment

May 12, 2020

Gov. Doug Burgum said he has a goal to have all of North Dakota’s nursing homes test for the coronavirus by May 15.

But there’s a hitch: Three North Dakota facilities, two in Minot and one in Fargo, have apparently refused tests.

Burgum said he was told about that just before he did his Monday briefing with Capitol reporters. He said he doesn’t know what facilities, and why they’re refusing tests.

"I'll have to dig in a little bit more about that," Burgum said. "I'll see if there is some concern about methodology or approach, or who is doing the tests.

"Maybe it just requires some more conversation, to get to a 'yes,'" Burgum said.

Burgum said the White House has a goal to have all the nation’s nursing homes tested by the end of the month.

Burgum also said "expect to see ramped up COVID-19 testing in Cass County this week. He said over half the active cases in North Dakota are in Cass County.

"I told the team that half the testing should be going on in Cass County this week," Burgum said.

Burgum said the state needs to "drive our testing" there. He said where there's a positive, there are others who have been in contact with that positive.

"We need to wrestle this thing to the ground," Burgum said.

Remdesivir

North Dakota will be receiving shipments of an antiviral drug used to treat severe COVID-19 cases.

The drug is Remdesivir. Governor Burgum said he learned Monday that the state would be receiving a shipment of the drug. As to how it would be distributed, Burgum said a physician advisory committee will determine that.

"We have the ability in this first shipment to treat 50 patients," Burgum said. "Working with medical providers, we can see those doses going to the most critically ill, because that's where it works."

Burgum said the state will be receiving more shipments of the drug.

DOT reopens

This week, North Dakota Department of Transportation drivers’ license offices began re-opening.

But people had to call to make reservations.

And there was a tremendous call volume.

"Almost 300-400 calls an hour," Burgum said.

That's about four times normal volume.

"If you had trouble getting through, we're adding more staff to help with the call center, and looking at other options to handle the volume," Burgum said.

Burgum said drivers’ license and motor vehicle tabs that expired after March First remain valid, and will not need to be renewed until his executive order is lifted. And he said the federal Department of Transportation has extended the deadline for “Real ID” by a year, to October first, 2021.