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8 regions in the state will now decide their own testing numbers

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 7:00 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The state Health Department is making major COVID-19 testing changes. There’s now a weekly cap on how many testing kits a particular region can receive.

State health leaders said the new model makes between 2,000-2,500 tests available for the whole state. Then, public health leaders in each of the eight regions get together to decide the number tests they need per week.

Allocating COVID-19 tests where they're most needed is the goal of the new structure. Region health professionals decide where tests are allocated. They know if their communities are in need or not.

“They’re the experts in their areas. They know if there’s a certain event, they may be seeing some higher numbers in five to seven days,” said ND Chief Nursing Officer Nicole Brunelle.

One thousand tests were made available for the Southwest Central Region due to a spike in COVID-19 cases this week. Depending on testing needs from other areas, the region’s eight counties could see less testing kits in the future.

“We all have to share and try to do different days to organize our testing here in our region,” said Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health Director Renae Moch.

Custer Health said they’ll receive 200 tests a week to assist the Mandan community and four surrounding counties.

The long line at Wednesday’s testing event shows the area’s demand for tests is high.

“The numbers today were quite alarming, it’s the highest that we’ve had so far. And so I think the need will continue to increase, especially with schools starting at the end of August,” said Custer Family Health Administrator Erin Ourada.

The state Health Department has goals, however, to increase their lab’s testing capacity before the back to school season begins.

Going forward, Custer Health’s Mandan location is planning to have 100 tests available at their location on Wednesdays, while Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health is expecting to have 600 tests available at the Event Center on Tuesdays.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.

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