In this episode of Plain Talk Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Georgia, talks about the COVID-19 impact and how America, generally, and North Dakota, specifically, is handling it.

One point Redfield made is that elected officials need to avoid making sweeping policies, instead tailoring responses to the needs of specific areas. "We need to be more surgical," Redfield said, echoing something Gov. Doug Burgum has been saying about responding to the pandemic "using a scalpel, not a sledgehammer."

Asked how North Dakota is doing in its handling of the outbreak, Redfield offered a risk assessment. He said the CDC considers a state in the "red zone" if it has more than 100 active cases per 100,000 citizens. "North Dakota has about 151 per 100,000," he said, though he added that another measure his agency looks at is the percentage of tests being conducted that are coming back positive.

A 10% rate puts a state in the red zone, per the CDC.

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Redfield said North Dakota's daily rates are typically coming back under 6%.

In a recent column, I wrote that just about everyone in North Dakota who is testing positive for the virus is recovering with most — around 95% — not even needing to be hospitalized. In response, some argued that even those who recover might face long-term health challenges resulting from having the virus.

I asked Dr. Redfield about that. "It's unknown territory," he said, noting that the virus has only been with us for a matter of months. It's something the CDC is tracking, but he expects that healthy people without "co-morbidities" (which is to say, other health issues) who get the virus will likely recover and be fine long-term.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at