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North Dakota leaders don’t agree with CDC’s rollback on testing guidelines

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 7:36 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Members of the World Health Organization say they’re worried the pandemic is being proliferated by younger people. Even so, the Centers for Disease Control is rolling back testing guidelines for asymptomatic people at the same time students head back to campus.

Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., is an advocate for increased testing, especially amongst younger individuals who tend to be asymptomatic.

Recent reports say the younger demographic is now “driving the pandemic,” yet the CDC is no longer recommending everyone be tested, which has many state leaders confused.

North Dakota COVID-19 cases are increasing as the CDC softens their testing guidelines. In just over a week, from Aug. 23 to Aug. 31, positive COVID-19 cases for the 20 to 29 age group have nearly doubled from 493 to 833 active cases statewide. But the State Department of Health staying the course.

“We haven’t changed any of our recommendations here in North Dakota and we’re unlikely to because we believe our recommendations make sound public health sense,” said Chief of the Division of Disease Control Kirby Kruger.

Burgum agrees the state’s large testing capacity has been vital.

“I think it’s imperative that we’re testing close contacts, so this is one case where I’m going to say I disagree with and don’t understand the latest guidance,” said Burgum.  

As Grand Forks County’s cases sharply increase, Mayor Brandon Bochenski has issued an emergency declaration for establishments with liquor licenses to shut down by 11 p.m. Some students think it won’t be enough.

“The best way to do it would be to shut everything down completely. I don’t know what cutting it by three hours is going to do,” said University of North Dakota student Tierney Eagleson.

Eagleson said without the free testing events, she wouldn’t have known she had COVID-19 and may have went to class with the virus.

The CDC did defend the changes saying some young people were using a negative COVID-19 test as a false sense of security, sometimes even ending their quarantine early. CDC leaders want people to remember the tests only determine if a person is positive or negative at a single point in time.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.

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