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Burgum 'hopeful' about North Dakota unemployment trend

Burgum 'hopeful' about North Dakota unemployment trend

The number of people certifying unemployment claims in North Dakota fell by almost 2,400 in the last week, a trend Gov. Doug Burgum said he hopes will continue.

“We’re hopeful that North Dakota unemployment numbers will continue to show a sustained decline as economic activity returns safely and smartly in North Dakota,” Burgum said Tuesday.

The drop in unemployment certifications coincides with May 1, when many businesses that had been restricted or closed were allowed to reopen, Burgum said.

“That means that 2,400 people would have gone back to work,” Burgum said.

People making an unemployment claim must certify the claim by answering a few questions about returning to work or working for themselves. Certification is completed a week after the initial claim and weekly thereafter until the person returns to work.

Job Service North Dakota has paid out benefits totaling $278.8 million – an amount that approaches what would be paid out in four normal years – in the last two months.

Workers in the leisure and hospitality industry have been hit hardest by pandemic-related job losses in the state with the restrictions or closures of food and drink businesses.

Job Service has processed 79,300 regular unemployment claims, 12,564 pandemic unemployment claims, and 13,353 pandemic unemployment emergency claims.

State officials are now working to develop rules that could allow visitation to resume at long-term care facilities, but Burgum said those decisions may vary by county or by facility. The decision could be different for Cass County, which continues to have the most COVID-19 cases, than for a county that has no confirmed cases.

“We take all of these decisions seriously, but long-term care is potentially a life or death decision, so we want to be very thoughtful about that,” Burgum said.

Coronavirus in North Dakota

The state reported Tuesday one more person has died with COVID-19 in Cass County, raising North Dakota’s coronavirus death toll to 45.

The man who died was in his 90s and had underlying health conditions, the North Dakota Department of Health said Tuesday.

The state describes the death count this way: 37 deaths due to COVID-19, four deaths where COVID-19 was not the primary cause and four deaths where an official death record has not yet been filed.

North Dakota reported 63 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 1,994 since the pandemic began. Of those cases, 680 remain active. In total, 1,269 people have recovered from the virus, including another 50 recoveries reported Tuesday.

The new test results come from a batch of 1,990 tests processed Monday, including 1,170 for people who have not previously been tested. Some people, such as those in long-term care facilities or health care workers, are being tested multiple times. All but two of the state’s 218 long-term care facilities have had COVID-19 testing, Burgum said.

Large-scale testing events, meanwhile, continue around the state. The North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown announced Tuesday that it has completed a two-day event administering nearly 500 tests to patients and staff. One patient tested positive.

 

Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or amy.sisk@bismarcktribune.com.

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