Visitation, stimulus and unemployment | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Visitation, stimulus and unemployment

May 20, 2020

The state Department of Human Services and the North Dakota Long Term Care Association are working on protocols to start allowing people in those facilities to receive visitors.

The onset of the coronavirus meant visitors were not allowed, except for compassionate care.

But the Long Term Care Association says people in those facilities need to see family, and that’s part of keeping them healthy.

"How do we look at what the risk is?" State Human Services Director Chris Jones told Bismarck reporters. "How do we mitigate those risk factors, and then how do we make educated risk judgements as it relates to preventing the spread (of the corornavirus), as well as protecting people's mental and behavioral health, in wanting to see loved ones?"

Jones said his Department is part of a task force, chaired by a nursing home resident in Mayville, working on the visitation issue.

"I hope we will have somthing for discussion and review by Friday," Jones said. "I'll set the goal of Monday, that we will have some visitation guidelines out."

Basi Care residents and stimulus payments

Gov. Doug Burgum has signed an emergency rule that will allow basic care residents to keep their $1200 stimulus checks.

Under state law, those checks were counted as income, and they were kept by the state.

"Nobody wanted that to happen," Burgum said. "Certainly not our Legislature, and certainly not the Executive Branch."

The emergency rule allows North Dakotans in basic care to keep that money.

It also affects the “SPED” program, or “Special Payments for the Elderly and Disabled.”

As for those who have already had those checks seized getting that money back…

"If they have already been affected, the answer is 'yes,'" Burgum said. "We know exactly how many are in basic care, we know how many are in SPED, and we'll make sure that everybody gets their $1200 check, as was intended."

Unemployment

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, North Dakota has seen more than 79,000 claims for unemployment.

And the state’s unemployment trust fund has paid out nearly $279 million in claims.

But over the past week, the number of claims has dropped by nearly 2400.

"So that means 2400 people have gone back to work," Burgum said.

Burgum said that would coincide with the "ND Smart Restart" reopening of businesses.

"We're hopeful that the unemployment numbers will continue to show a sustained decline, as economic activity returns safely and smartly to North Dakota," Burgum said.

North Dakota’s current seasonally-adjusted jobless rate is 8.5 percent.