BISMARCK — Striking at the very core of the Reuniting Residents and Families Task Force, Chairman Chris Larson says Senate Bill 2145 ensures residents have the emotional and physical support they need, and believes the bill is a "win-win" for North Dakotans.

It allows long-term care residents to have one or more "designated caregivers" allowed in the facility at any time — while taking safety precautions — specifically during a disaster or emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Had we been able to get a designated caregiver in that critical time early in the pandemic, where people were just trying to stay afloat, we'd have less residents dying from a broken heart," Larson said.

"It's not a victory for those who lost their ability to spend time with loved ones. This is a bill that takes what we've learned from the health crisis and ensures the lessons we learned aren't forgotten," Rep. Paul Thomas (R-Velva) said.

The bill can't supersede federal authority, but it's still seen as progress and a tool to be used in the future if needed. The bill is with a conference committee of House and Senate members, who are working on the final language of the bill.