BISMARCK, N.D. — Testing in North Dakota has found another two cases of coronavirus in the state, bringing the state's total up to 28, state officials said Saturday, March 21.
Both confirmed cases are in Burleigh County, home to the bulk of the state's coronavirus cases.
One of the individuals, a man in his 30s, contracted the disease from community spread, but it's not clear how he caught COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. The other case, a female in her 20s, caught the illness possibly due to travel, officials said.
There are now three diagnosed individuals in the hospital, an increase of one from Friday, said Gov. Doug Burgum in an afternoon press conference.
As of 4 p.m. the Department of Health and private labs have conducted 244 total tests Saturday, for a total of 1,182 tests processed with 1,154 negative results.
The state has received tests from 48 of 53 counties, Burgum said, and has tested almost as many people per capita as New York, a larger rate than surrounding states. But he cautioned that testing results don’t reflect the current spread of coronavirus in North Dakota.
“Testing is a lagging indicator, and the fact that we’ve got very few positives is not an indicator that the spread is not more widely than we think,” he said.
Burgum also announced he had signed two executive orders easing restrictions on pharmacists and prescriptions.
One order allows licensed pharmacists to perform tests for COVID-19. Another order allows pharmacists to provide up to a 30-day supply of emergency medications for treatment of illnesses like diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure needed by those who would otherwise have only 72-hour prescriptions. The order excludes class 2 narcotics such as opioids.
The latest test results and Burgum's latest executive orders cap a week of dramatic action by state and local officials to stem the spread of the coronavirus in North Dakota, now present in six counties.
Burgum closed bars, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to on-site business effective Friday at noon, restricted public access to state facilities, closed public and private K-12 schools indefinitely and suspended licensing regulation for health professionals to allow those licensed in other states to work in North Dakota.
The state parole board on Friday approved early release for 50 prisoners to clear space in state facilities amid the pandemic, and moved up meeting with 60 additional inmates scheduled to have parole hearings in the next 90 days.
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