Bismarck   North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said the North Dakota Department of Health Thursday confirmed 13 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 58 confirmed cases. Video starts at 13 minutes into video.

ND Dept of Health Joint Information Center press briefing with Governor Doug Burgum 3/26/20

ND Dept of Health Joint Information Center press briefing with Governor Doug Burgum 3/26/20

Posted by North Dakota Department of Health on Thursday, March 26, 2020

Five new cases were confirmed Thursday in Burleigh County, three in Stark County, two in Cass County and one each in McIntosh, McHenry and Ward counties. Eleven individuals have been hospitalized.

A total of 2,261 tests have been completed, with test samples coming from 51 of the state’s 53 counties.

Burgum said the state will double the amount of COVID-19 tests in the coming days, a promise he delivered after one-fifth of the total positive tests were confirmed in the last 24 hours. Burgum said he has formed a testing task force that will include help from the private second, including a Fargo company that has been providing testing materials to pharmacies around the world.

On Thursday  Burgum released modified operating practices and an emergency grant program for child care providers to help them through the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that child care services are available for health, safety and other lifeline workers. The governor also signed an executive order giving counties the option of mail ballot-only elections to protect public health during the coronavirus emergency.

The child care initiative is the result of a rapid planning process that began last weekend and involved the Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Public Instruction and the Governor’s Office with input from child care providers and other stakeholders.

DHS Executive Director Chris Jones said,“Access to child care is essential for health care professionals, first responders and other lifeline households during this crisis. Without it, our ability to meet basic health and safety needs will be severely constrained, which puts us all at risk.  These measures announced today will help sustain the child care sector through this crisis and ensure it has the capacity we need when our economy gets back on track.”

The planning process had three objectives:

  • Protect the health of children, families and child care workers;
  • Provide child care for health, safety and other lifeline worker households; and
  • Help sustain the child care sector during the emergency and recovery,

The final initiative has three key elements:

  • Guidance on how child care providers can continue to safely serve children through modified operating practices. This includes precautions such as a limit of 10 people per room, a screening process for access to the provider and guidelines for meals and playtime.
  • A Child Care Emergency Operating Grant to cover extra operating costs associated with the modified practices and to sustain vital child care services now and during the COVID-19 recovery. These grants will be available to all child care providers licensed by the state who agree to prioritize children of health, safety and other lifeline households.
  • Added flexibility to allow school districts to help care for children in grades K-5 whose parents work in vital health, safety and lifeline services. The governor will be amending an earlier executive order to allow this type of child access to schools.

For additional details, see the Provider Resources section on the DHS website at

Election flexibility provided

Thursday’s executive order was developed in collaboration with Secretary of State Al Jaeger and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem with input from North Dakota county auditors. The order ensures every eligible North Dakota voter can cast a ballot in June, while protecting the health and safety of voters and poll workers.

The order waives the requirement that counties must provide at least one physical polling location on primary election day. This will give counties the flexibility and local control to conduct the June 9 primary election by mail ballot only – if the county chooses to do so. Currently, 33 counties offer mail ballot voting in addition to the physical polling locations required by law. The state’s 20 other counties also are eligible to conduct mail ballot voting.

Burgum sais, “All North Dakota citizens should be able to exercise their right to vote without risking their health.   We’re also looking out for the safety and well-being of our poll workers, including many retirees who may have greater vulnerability to COVID-19.”

REAL ID Deadline Extended

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it is extending the REAL ID deadline enforcement one-year from the current October 1, 2020, deadline to October 1, 2021. Homeland Security will also utilize the additional time to modernize REAL ID implementation.

Approximately 25% or 152,000 North Dakota residents have received a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card. Burgum says,  “We are grateful that the Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID deadline.  The health and safety of North Dakotans is our number one priority during the COVID-19 pandemic and this is one more step to help reduce spread of the virus.”

The federal REAL ID Act was passed to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and identification cards, while inhibiting the ability of terrorists and others to evade detection by using fraudulent identification. Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, all travelers will need a REAL ID-compliant form of identification to board a commercial flight or gain access to secure federal facilities, including military bases, nuclear facilities and some federal offices.