At his weekly COVID-19 briefing, Governor Doug Burgum announced new guidelines in regards to close contacts and quarantine.
A close contact is defined as anyone you’ve spent at least 15 minutes with at a distance of less than six feet over a period of 24 hours. Kirby Kruger is Chief if the Division of Disease Control at the North Dakota Department of Health. He says studies continue to prove effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19 from infected persons to their close contacts. Kruger says the new guidance from the state health department is for non-residential or non-healthcare settings where both the positive individual and close contact were correctly masked, the close contact of the positive individual will not be asked to quarantine. But Kruger says the will be asked to take action to slow the spread.
"We will ask the close contact to self-monitor, which means they should be watching for symptoms, wearing a mask at all times like they're supposed to be doing. They should also consider testing, especially if they develop symptoms, but also testing seven to ten days down the road. And they should be social distancing as much as possible, and is practical."
Burgum says this new guidance is designed to encourage and incentivize mask wearing. He says this means the more people are masked in more settings, the less likely anyone would be asked to quarantine. He says this is especially critical for school settings.
"This is a big incentive for parents to be role models for their kids and say, let's mask up as a family to make sure nobody in our family is positive, and when you're getting on the bus or going to school wear a mask because then if somebody else turns up positive you won't have to quarantine. And if you're a young adult, or a college student, or an employee, or going to a place of business and wearing a mask and other people are wearing a mask and a positive turns up - you're going to be okay."
Burgum says this new guidance will be applied retroactively and be recommended going forward.