BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Wednesday, April 1, announced 21 new cases COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.
The total positive tests for the virus in North Dakota is up to 147, however the department lists 39 people as having recovered from the illness. There are currently 26 residents hospitalized with the illness and three North Dakotans have died.
Gov. Doug Burgum announced Wednesday the mandatory closure of restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and personal care businesses will be extended through at least April 20. Initial mandated closures were due to expire Monday, April 6, but Burgum said allowing those businesses to reopen next week would hamper the state's efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Burgum said the state would give another update on whether the businesses can reopen by April 15.
"We want to be closed as long as we have to be to save lives and not a day longer," Burgum said Wednesday.
Burgum said he's not aware of any violations of the mandatory closures by businesses, but he said residents need to do a better job of avoiding gatherings of 10 people or more.
"Right now, we're doing a lot of the social part, and not a lot of the distancing part," the governor said.
The new cases announced Wednesday come from all over the state, including the four most populous counties — Cass, Burleigh, Grand Forks and Ward.
The six new cases in Cass County, which contains most of the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area, brings the county's total up to 37. Cass, the state's most populous county, on Tuesday surpassed Burleigh County, which encompasses most of the Bismarck-Mandan metropolitan area, as the county with the most cases in the state. The department changed the location of a case announced earlier Wednesday from Rolette County to Cass County.
Grand Forks County now has five known cases of COVID-19, with Wednesday's addition of two travel-related cases. Stark County, which encompasses Dickinson, now has the third most cases in the state at 16.
A total of 4,627 tests for the virus have been reported to the state, and 23 counties have at least one known case of the illness. However, Burgum has previously said that the cases are reported based on patients' mailing addresses, rather than their actual location in the state, so it is unknown where infected patients are quarantining or seeking medical help.
The state lab and private providers in North Dakota have also performed 227 tests on residents of other states and found five known cases of the illness, including three of Minnesota residents and one each of Colorado and Kansas residents, according to the health department. Citing medical privacy, the department would not say where the residents are actually located if still in North Dakota.
Job Service North Dakota has received more than 28,600 claims for unemployment benefits over the last two weeks which is more than the 20,000 claims filed in all of 2019, Burgum said. Many of the claims have come from the energy and hospitality sectors, but "they're coming from all over," said Job Service Director Bryan Klipfel. Burgum said his office is not yet thinking about laying off or furloughing state employees, but he noted the state would likely have to tighten its belt in the future due to an impending revenue shortfall.
Burgum announced a new order Wednesday that temporarily waives the normal one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits. Burgum added that the federal government will reimburse the state for that first week of benefits.
President Donald Trump declared a major disaster for the state Wednesday afternoon, which unlocks several federal funding sources that may include direct federal assistance for state, tribal and local governments and certain non-profits during COVID-19 recovery efforts.
Every state now has at least 100 confirmed cases of the illness — New York state has been hit the hardest, with more than 83,000 known cases and 1,900 deaths. Minnesota has 689 known cases and 17 deaths, and South Dakota had announced 129 positive tests and two deaths as of Wednesday evening. The Dakotas have among the lowest numbers of positive tests in the country.
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