North Dakota has first 'presumptive' Coronavirus case | Prairie Public Broadcasting

North Dakota has first 'presumptive' Coronavirus case

Mar 12, 2020

Left to right: Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford; State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte; Gov. Doug Burgum; Tim Wiedrich and Kirby Kruger, State Health Dept.; and North Dakota National Guard Adj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann at a briefing on the coronavirus.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota has its first “presumptive” case of coronavirus.

A Minot man – in his 60s – tested positive for the virus. He’s not hospitalized – and is staying home.

Gov. Doug Burgum told reporters the man was travelling on the West Coast, when he determined he had been in contact with a person who was infected.

"This is called 'travel contact,'" Burgum said. "And this is a piece of good news, because we actually know who the person had contact with and how they contracted it."

Burgum said the state Health Department is awaiting formal confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control. He said even though North Dakota now has a case, the recommendations remain the same -- wash hands frequently and stay home when you're sick.

"We want to be making decisions on facts, not fear," Burgum said. "And we want to focus on preparation, and avoid any panic."

Burgum said it appears the virus is more serious in the elderly, and in those people with underlying health conditions.

State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte said a memo is being sent to long-term care facilities – asking them to follow the national guidelines, and limit visitors.

"I know this is hard," Tufte said. "You want to be in the facility where your family member is. But right now, in order to protect them and protect yourself, we're asking these facilities to limit visitors to only essential visits, that may be around end-of-life or very critical situations."

Burgum called that a “strong recommendation” – and said teams from the Health Department will be checking with those facilities to make sure the recommendation is followed.

North Dakota's state High School Basketball tournaments are going ahead as scheduled.

That's different from the college hockey playoffs, which have been canceled.

The State Health Department's Kirby Kruger said the Department has been in touch with the North Dakota High School Activities Association – and he said the NDHSAA is doing some appropriate things to prepare.

"They're making sure bathrooms are equipped with soap, so people can wash their hands thoroughly," Kruger said. "If the venue has access to hand sanitizers, they will be made available."

Kruger said the NDHSAA is encouraging individuals at high risk to enjoy the tournaments on television, and is encouraging those who are sick to watch at home.

Meanwhile, the North Dakota Democratic - NPL Party has canceled its state convention, which was scheduled March 20-21 in Minot.

"Obviously, the health of delegates, volunteers and the public in Minot came first and foremost, said party executive director Michael Taylor. "And the case being in Ward County itself was big in our decision-making."

Taylor said the party is now looking at its options.

"Different things like a virtual convention," Taylor said. "We're trying to stick to deadlines, such as the April 6th deadline for candidates to file."

Several of the state's colleges and universities have decided to allow students to go to classes on-line for a period of time.