Governor: North Dakota close to last stage of reopening plan
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said Tuesday that several counties in the state are close to reaching the fifth and final stage of a reopening plan that would allow businesses to resume normal operations under standard precautions to minimize risk of the coronavirus.
Burgum said the state’s color-coded risk assessment plan currently ranks the state as a whole in the fourth or green stage, which is generally considered low risk but limits bars and restaurants to less than 100 percent capacity. He said officials will make another assessment next month on how many counties have qualified to move into the fifth or blue stage.
“We may get to a spot before the end of the summer where the whole state can move in one swoop from green to blue,” Burgum said at his first COVID-19 briefing in a week. “The primary situation in terms of what may be holding them back ... has to do with the percentage of occupancy indoors and outdoors in restaurants and the size of gatherings at large events.”
The governor said several restaurants have developed new business plans along with city officials to include more outdoor seating, including placing tables on sidewalks.
“There are very few things that are (still) affected. Full seating inside a bar and restaurant is one of those things,” Burgum said. “A number of people are reporting that they are doing great takeaway business. Even this last weekend, I heard some restaurants in the state were doing business on Saturday like it was Valentine’s Day or some other huge event.”
Burgum said testing in the last week showed a record number of nearly 23,000 screenings, resulting in 198 new cases, or a less than 1% positive rate. The number of active cases stands at 234, which is the lowest number in two month, and “now we now where they are because they are isolated,” the governor said.
“We’re fortunate we’ve got some really good numbers,” Burgum said. “The goal now is to keep it there. North Dakota remains well-positioned and well-prepared.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.