Responding to nursing home outbreaks

Published: May. 20, 2020 at 7:44 PM CDT
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When economic restrictions were beginning to be loosened, Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., said it was all going to be about managing risk.

The state has seen outbreaks in long term care facilities before, but now they are becoming a pattern.

There had been plans to release guidance on how some facilities might be able to reopen in the coming week, but now there's growing pressure on what those plans could look like.

"Those two locations again are reminders to us that we have some counties that still have not had a positive case in North Dakota and should count themselves fortunate, but that does not mean that perhaps the virus isn't present, because these two sort of outbreaks, if you want to call them were discovered during our intentional effort to test all 218 facilities in the state,” Burgum said.

The governor pins the uptick in numbers on targeted testing.

While nearly 17,000 tests are available right now, nearly half of the reason testing has been dedicated to serial testing. This has been putting the remaining supplies to focus more on vulnerable populations and mass testing in nursing homes.

"As we increase activity and increase economic activity, we are increasing the transmissible moments. At the same time, simultaneously, as you know, we spent the last couple months building up our capability in the state in terms of testing and contact tracing because these two tools that we need to be able to protect the citizens of our state, both in terms of lives and livelihoods,” Burgum said.

Something else that could be opening in the coming weeks could be the Capitol building.

However, there has already been millions of dollars spent on equipping both the Capitol and its workers to provide distance services.

Not only that, but the governor said that he wants to make some of these services available digitally in the long term.

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